Jesus' parables are mysterious. This is because the kingdom of heaven itself is mysterious. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is mysterious. It's in embracing the mystery of the kingdom of heaven that we come to an understanding of Jesus' parables. An additional key is reading the parables in their context. Matthew 18 profoundly demonstrates both of these lessons.

This lecture is part three of a four-part series on "Studying Jesus' Parables." In this series, I draw on my research for my book, Parables: Portraits of the Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Jesus’ parables, we find a rabbi who will turn our world upside down. And that’s a good thing.

This lecture was delivered at The Table (a missional church plant in Bellingham, WA) on January 24, 2018. Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

Join Us in Sharing about Jesus

Learn More

Jesus was fond of speaking in parables. But why did he speak in these short, often confusing, stories? To understand Jesus' parables, we have to look at his first-century context and think of him as the rabbi that he is. We also have to make the commitment that Jesus asks us to make: We have to enter the journey with him; we have to follow Jesus the rabbi like his earliest disciples did.

This lecture is part two of a four-part series on "Studying Jesus' Parables." In this series, I draw on my research for my book, Parables: Portraits of the Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Jesus’ parables, we find a rabbi who will turn our world upside down. And that’s a good thing.

This lecture was delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on March 7, 2018. Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

Join Us in Sharing about Jesus

Learn More

Jesus' parables can be perplexing, to say the least. How do we interpret them? Before we can answer that question, we need to have a basic framework for understanding Jesus as a first-century rabbi. We need to understand Jesus as prophet, messiah, and savior. Here's that framework.

This lecture is part one of a four-part series on "Studying Jesus' Parables." In this series, I draw on my research for my book, Parables: Portraits of the Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Jesus’ parables, we find a rabbi who will turn our world upside down. And that’s a good thing.

This lecture was delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on February 28, 2018. Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

Join Us in Sharing God's Story

Learn More

What is it like at your home when you have people over for dinner? Jesus suggests that our answer to this question tells us a great deal about our spirituality. Our answer to this question gets to the root of another question: Are we really loving our local and global neighbor? In what ways have we thought of ourselves as righteous, while ignoring the hurting? Have we truly counted the cost of being Jesus' disciples? Are we willing to give up our social status for the sake of those who have less than us? These are the questions behind Christian leadership.

In this sermon, I focus on Luke 14 and Matthew 22:2–14, where Jesus tells us to "count the cost" of being a disciple. I also look at the full meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). In the process, I tell a series of personal stories, including how I nearly died as a child, overcame a severe speech impediment, and then sold my home to follow Jesus. Each time, God led me to count the cost and determine the worth of being a disciple. But the journey of being Jesus' disciple is still an ongoing process for me, as I am sure it is for you.

I delivered this sermon at ACTS Seminaries' Chapel (Trinity Western University) to a group of Christian leaders on May 8, 2016.

Subscribe now to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.

Give for the Sake of the Hurting

Learn More

Psalm 23 captures our imagination as children and does so today. We read it at weddings and funerals alike. Why? Because we all want to to be pursued with a love that is beyond comprehension. This is what Psalm 23 keys in on.

But it's hard to see the love of God in a world that feels surrounded by death. But we've all seen it. A loyal love like God's is perhaps nowhere more seen than in the sacrificial mothers we've known. I think of my great-grandmother, Ma Murphy, who raised my mother. Her table was always open to the homeless, pregnant teenage girls, and children in need of a home. Ma Murphy's love also pursued prodigal children. It was a loyal love, loyal beyond all reason, like the kind of love we see from God.

God's love is loyal even when fail to be loyal ourselves. God's love is like that of a shepherd's. It pursues us.

I originally delivered this sermon at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on May 12, 2019 (Mother's Day). This sermon was prepared in collaboration with pastor J.D. Elgin. Get more sermons like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

Join Us in Sharing God's Love

Learn More

Tough love is the Jonah way. By closely examining the book of Jonah, and looking at its genre and context, we can come to an understanding of its meaning. While it's a weird book, it profoundly shows God's love. Jonah could be described as a "top 5 worst of" list, but in the "worst" of Jonah and his efforts, we find the best of God. God's love can be tough and it's a love we need.

In this sermon, I examine the entirety of the book of Jonah (Jonah 1–4). This sermon / lecture was delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on May 12, 2019 (Mother's Day).

An article version of this sermon, titled "Tough Love: The Jonah Way," is available on the Jesus' Economy Blog. You can also subscribe to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this talk? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.

If you only had three years to do a monumental project, what would you do? Chance has it that you would clear the deck, ignore most people, and just focus on that singular initiative. You would have little time for people and their random problems. But Jesus had an entirely different approach.

In this sermon, I look at Jesus' decision to stop on the Road to Jericho to not just heal a man but to engage in a conversation (Luke 18:35–43). To explain the passage, I draw on my field research for my book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

This sermon was originally delivered at Third Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on March 31, 2019. You can subscribe to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this talk? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.

Global inequality is the root cause of much of the world's problems. If you can't feed or educate your children, you will become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. Desperation even breeds terrorism. But we can do something about it. We have the power.

Impoverished communities are especially vulnerable to corruption and exploitation. If we could fix these ethical problems and create fair-wage jobs, we could cut off the problem at its source. We could change the world. The key to all this: technology, organization, and simple choices. We need action and we need the right plan. In this talk, I explain how we can leverage our interconnected world to fix global inequality.

I believe in these ideas so much that my wife and I gave up our former lifestyle to make it happen: selling our house, our possessions, and quitting a great job. In this talk, I explain what motivated me to make these drastic decisions; and the part I believe we all can play in transforming our world.

This talk was delivered for a special event at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center in Ithaca, NY on April 21, 2017. The talk was sponsored by Bethel Grove Bible Church.

Subscribe now to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.

Join Us in Fixing Global Inequality

Learn More

Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players." There are many players in the biblical story. In this grand play across time, with God as the great author of history, we are invited to see ourselves in the characters. There is one act in this grand play that stands above the rest: the great moment of the resurrection. But in this story, there are characters who have been neglected, forgotten, overlooked. Yet, they are the greatest source of inspiration. They are the women who stood by Jesus.

In this sermon, I examine Mark 16, suggesting that we should all emulate the women who stood by Jesus. We should be witnesses in God's grand story like the women were.

This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on April 21, 2019 (Easter Sunday).

Subscribe now to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

The 2019 National Day of Prayer in the United States is today, May 2, and its theme is "Love one another," taking a queue from Jesus' instruction to his disciples, "Love one another, just as I have loved you" (John 13:34). There is no more fitting way to love than being a blessing to the people of our world. When we pray for God's blessing, let us pray because we want to bless.

These prayers make me ask again: What if the American dream could be leveraged to change our entire world? What if the frontier spirit of America had enough tenacity to transform lives around our planet? Americans are blessed so that they may be a blessing. Prayer coupled with action is the way for that to happen.

Blessed to Be a Blessing: A National Day of Prayer Message

On National Day of Prayer several years ago, I delivered a message in Casper, Wyoming about how America is blessed to be a blessing. I discuss the frontier spirit present in people like Henry David Thoreau, the power of prayer, the biblical view of blessing, and how our interconnected world presents us with a unique opportunity to lift people everywhere out of poverty.

 

Is the American Dream Still Alive?

In this keynote address, I discuss how I grew up in the shadow of the American dream in the oil boom in Alaska, raised by parents who are the epitome of the dream itself. I explain what growing up in the frontier spirit taught me about the power of being able to choose your future. I then relate this to how our entire world deserves this choice by telling a story from Bihar, India along the way. I explain how the American dream may not be fully alive today, but that it can be again, and show how that would change our entire world for the better.

American Jobs and Empowering People Overseas

Since part of Jesus' Economy's vision is to create jobs in the developing world, I often get asked, "What about American jobs?" It's a valid question and one I answered in my talk for National Day of Prayer.

I believe that Americans will have even more opportunity as fair trade jobs are created in the developing world. It will give Americans the opportunity to leverage our knowledge of markets, organization structures, and technical information to create work here. You cannot have fashion without fashion designers. You cannot deliver products in the U.S. without shipping facilities here. You cannot create a leading fair trade shop without employing technical people. What if the U.S. and other western countries could be the means to making fair trade work happen? And what if this industry, based completely on empowerment and freedom, was bigger than companies like Amazon and Facebook?

Peace and Creating Fair Trade Jobs Go Hand in Hand

Peace is a beautiful thing. In my talk I also explain that by creating fair trade jobs, we create friends and allies. We eliminate the possibility of exploitation and isolation. When we create fair trade jobs, we create a way for the U.S. to have peaceful relationships with other nations.

I believe there can be win-win-win situations in business, if business is based on Christian ethics. I believe that fair trade commerce creates such an opportunity. What if we could leverage the ideas that built America to make this happen? What if we were to spread the idea of economic and spiritual freedom around the world? Such an effort would create incredible and unwavering hope.*

We are blessed to be a blessing. On this National Day of Prayer, let's pray for that. Think of that as you use this guide for prayer from the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Also, for regular inspiration, subscribe to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "Leveraging the American Dream to Change the World."