This story has changed the course of human history over the past 2,000 years. Of course the story is profound, but the IMPLICATIONS of what it means to the history of our universe leading up to Jesus’ resurrection is incredible. This teaching is a reflection about the significance of Easter. Jesus walking out of the empty tomb offered a whole new history of the world.
We are in the final moments of Jesus’ story, and we focus on his trial, but also the story in Matthew about Judas after his betrayal of Jesus. Judas experiences extreme remorse and ends up committing suicide. These are grim stories, but they are very important insights into human conditions. You can see how Judas became trapped in his black hole of terrible decisions and how they destroyed him. It’s a very sobering and sobering portrait of the human condition. I think you’ll find these stories...more
We’ve come to (from my perspective) one of the most profound, mysterious, and almost terrifying stories of the Gospel. It is the story of Jesus right before he gets arrested and executed. He took his friends and followers to a small olive grove and he was disappointed by their inability to stay awake… his closest people fail him at the moment that he needs them the most. So then Jesus turns to God and multiple times he asks that he not have to go through the arrest and execution. It was so scar...more
This teaching is actually kind of a replay and development of a teaching that I gave numerous times about the Messianic Passover. As we retell the story of Passover year after year, we can see that the story is forward-pointing as it represents liberation. What Jesus does with this meal and how he takes its meaning and tweaks it is really interesting. We address all of this and more about the Passover Meal in this episode.
Today we ponder a pretty well-known peril of Jesus that has been misused and abused in unfortunate ways when it is read out of context. This story is about a landowner who gives different sized investments to his servants and then expects them to produce something with the investments. Then based on what they have done with the investment, the landowner rewards or punishes different people. As you can see, this is one of those stories where if you take it out of context, you can just do terrib...more
We go over Matthew Chapter 24 today, which in modern, especially American Protestantism, has become a very controversial text related to biblical discussions about “the end times”. The longer I’ve gone on to learn more about the bible and how symbolism works and apocalyptic texts in Jewish writing, my understanding has really depended. That being said, they still remain controversial because of the symbolism. Let's dive in together.
We are in the “passion” week during Jesus’ stay in Jerusalem for Passover, and there are a series of controversies. Today we explore a controversy that Jesus has with some priests. They try to trap Jesus in a scripture-type puzzle, but he really doesn’t fall for it. We watch Jesus deal with controversy, the future, resurrection, and more in this episode.
We look at a story from a controversy that Jesus was involved in in this episode. During his final week in Jerusalem for Passover, he ends up telling this famous story of God’s covenant with Israel leading up to Jesus. He tells it through a story about a landowner who owns a vineyard and then has some hired hands who end up hijacking the farm and getting violent about it. Jesus really confronts his contemporaries with the squandered opportunity of Israel’s history. This teaching of Jesus shows ...more
In this teaching, we take apart Matthew Chapter 21 and the story of Jesus riding into Jerusalem during the week of Passover, and he creates a storm. He literally storms into the temple and turns over tables and stages a protest. Immediately following that, there is a story about Jesus and a fig tree. Get ready for Hebrew word plays, prophetic poetry, and more in this episode.
We slow down on Matthew Chapter 18 and address Jesus’ aside road trip in this teaching. He is trying to give his staff and disciples an idea of what it is like to live in the upside-down value system of the kingdom in our personal conflicts and relationships. He particularly addresses forgiveness because, for Jesus, forgiveness was the quintessential feature of what it means to follow him. We explore forgiveness and reconciliation in this episode.
This episode takes us into Matthew Chapter 18. Jesus was taking a road trip, and then he decided to go on a solo march towards Jerusalem for Passover. He had been trying to invite his disciples specifically (his closest followers). This chapter focuses on resolving conflicts and relational problems within the kingdom of Jesus. It is full of practical teachings about what the kingdom of God looks like on the personal, individual relationship level. It starts here, with Jesus urging his disciples...more
At this point, we take a look at Matthew Chapter 17 about taxes and death. This isn't the most famous story about taxes in the Bible, but it is one of the first. It is about how Jesus relates to power and the Jewish institutions within religious people. This is an interesting story to show how Jesus related to these powers that he believed were corrupt but still submitted to them, and it also sheds light on what it means for Jesus and his followers to relate to the power structures that they hap...more
At this point, we look at Matthew Chapter 15. It is a story about a woman who approaches Jesus and asks him to heal her child, and Jesus HESITATES (which is totally bizarre because it doesn’t fit the portrait of Jesus, right?). The backstory of this woman and her history in the scriptures is really interesting, and it really helps us frame why Matthew has included this odd story in the first place. It has to do with Jesus’ mission to the people of Israel and God. Listen in to learn more.
We’re looking at Matthew Chapter 14. I consider two stories alongside each other in this teaching. One is the story of John the Baptist getting beheaded by the royal family. It is followed by another story of Jesus providing food for hungry people in the wilderness that interrupts his cousin’s death. The character of Jesus shines brightly in this episode.
We consider one of Jesus’ parables in this episode. Jesus is explaining who he is and what the kingdom of God that he is announcing is like. He is trying to shift and recreate new paradigms for people and life and God. The “Weeds and Wheat” is a famous parable that Jesus gives in Matthew Chapter 13. Listen in as we dive in together. Want to learn more about the larger biblical ideas about God's justice in this video? Check out Josh Butler, Skeletons in God’s Closet: The Mercy of Hell, the Surpri...more
In this teaching, we address Matthew Chapter 12. Here, the leaders of Israel challenge Jesus and they want to make him prove his identity. Jesus responds by giving them a riddle and talking about the sign of Jonah. This story also raises a fascinating parallel with many of our own personal stories where Jesus is not coming through for us at all the way we thought he would, and we begin to bargain with him, but Jesus just doesn’t really work like that. Listen in for more on these topics.
Matthew Chapters 11 and 12 are stories about people responding to what Jesus has been doing in chapters 4 -10. What we see here is one of the first notes of people’s rejection of Jesus by the Israelite contemporaries. So in this episode, we situate Jesus how he thought of himself in the tradition of the Hebrew Prophets. He gives warnings that are serious and significant, and they show us that Jesus was fully embedded in the religious controversies of first-century Israel in relation to the Roman...more
We look at Matthew Chapter 11 today. It is kind of a puzzling story, where John the Baptist (who is actually Jesus’ relative and played a very key role in Jesus’ life early on) is in prison. John the Baptist is also expressing serious doubts about who Jesus is and his identity. It is a fascinating story that gives us a window into the kinds of expectations that Jewish people had about the Messiah. What was Jesus NOT doing that made John have these doubts? We explore this story and our own pers...more
This episode addresses faith in a story about Jesus healing a blind man in Matthew Chapter 9. In the Gospels, the word “faith” and specifically "having faith and trust in Jesus" really has a specific meaning. We see that different people have very different experiences with Jesus. Why the different reactions and responses? We address that question and more in this episode…
We unravel a well-known story that takes place in Gospel Chapter 9 about Jesus forgiving the sins of a man who is paralyzed in legs. Then, he heals his legs so that he can get up and walk away. However, this is a controversy around this healing that Jesus performs, and it becomes a focal point for the whole story. For Jesus to forgive sins a first-century Jewish context was a loaded and symbolic act. We’ll discuss more about this and Jesus redefining the definition of God in today’s episode.
Today we look at a story in Matthew chapter 9. Each story makes a unique claim on Jesus’s identity, about his character, and the kind of communities that Jesus came to create. Jesus has brought together a diverse and complicated group of people around his Kingdom of God announcement. He’s labeled a rebel by the Jewish community, but today we are going to explore the method and mindset that is underneath Jesus’ mission of creating these really unique Kingdom of God communities.
We are in the narrative chapters of Matthew Chapters 8 and 9, where Matthew has collected nine stories of Jesus performing a whole number of powerful deeds and acts. Some of them are acts of healing, others of them are acts of creative power. In this episode, we talk about two stories. One is about Jesus calming chaotic waters. The other is about Jesus meeting two dangerous men in a graveyard. Listen in to hear more.
In previous episodes, we explored the Sermon on the Mount, but now we turn a corner back into the story Matthew of chapter 8. We explore this story of Jesus healing a man with a skin disease, which holds a lot of symbolic freight. Most importantly, this story is about Jesus’ contagious holiness. Jesus embodies the healing power of God’s holiness. This is an amazing story, especially once you take into consideration all of the Old Testament context.
This episode explores Jesus’ teaching about prayer. It is the famous “ask and you shall receive” teaching. Personally, prayer has always been one of the aspects of following Jesus that I’ve found most difficult to make a big part of my life. So in this episode, I explore both what Jesus says, but also some of the objections or questions that come up in our minds when we try to take Jesus at his word and pray.
Today we are going to explore one of the most memorable teachings of Jesus that many people, even non-Christians, know. It is the teaching that centers around judgment or the idea “Don’t judge so that you will not be judged”. What did Jesus mean when he said not to judge other people? This is one of the teachings of Jesus that has truly taken on a life of its own. How has its meaning morphed over time, and what did Jesus intend for this teaching to mean? We address these questions and more in ...more
Specifically, we talk about the meaning and significance of one of the most important things that Jesus ever said to his followers. Jesus passed along his prayer and taught us how to pray, which he addressed in his Sermon on the Mount. Even after I became a follower of Jesus, I still never adopted the Lord's prayer as my own prayer that I prayed regularly. It took me years until I came across other people who really advocated that we should adopt the Lord’s prayer into our daily habits. Listen...more
Today we explore the meaning and significance of Jesus’s command “Love your neighbor”, which even includes the people who hate you (or your enemies). We’re going to look into why this is such a shocking and controversial teaching, especially in Jesus’s day and age. It can sometimes feel very counter-intuitive. This is a difficult teaching to hear and process and think of what it means, but let’s go into this with open minds.
Today we are going to focus on Jesus’ teaching about swearing… as in “swearing oaths”. You’re probably not too hung up on “swearing too many oaths”, but it was actually a really important part of Jesus’ culture in his day and age. More importantly, we’re going to explore some of the basic heart-level issues that Jesus is getting at here. The way we talk to each other with spins, half-truths, etc. is actually the very same thing that Jesus is trying to address in this piece. This became a surpr...more
Today’s particular teaching is about one of the few times that Jesus addresses the topic of sex and sexual desire. He uses a lot of intense language that has really stuck with Jesus’ followers for many thousands of years. The goal is to get inside Jesus’ heart and mind about his vision of what sexuality is and what it is for.
Probably Jesus's relationship to the Torah isn't something that you woke up thinking about this morning, but it was actually a major major issue. The Torah represents not just the Bible, but the whole story and terms of the covenant that Israel used to relate to God. Jesus came saying that the Kingdom of God had arrived through him and the work he was doing, but it was confusing to a lot of people so he addressed how he related to the story and the covenant that God made leading up to him. This...more
In this section, we’re exploring Jesus’s most famous collection of teachings in Matthew chapters 5-7. Jesus is announcing to the Kingdom of God that way of life that he’s inviting his followers to join only makes sense WITHIN the announcement that God’s Kingdom has arrived through Jesus. This teaching focuses on those famous little poetic sayings at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount called “The Beatitudes”. It makes reference to the types of people who are blessed, but what does that eve...more
This teaching is about the second half of Matthew Chapter 4. Jesus is an adult in this segment, and he says his first words to the public (the people of Israel). He talks about the Kingdom or the reign of God. To me, this was a foundational idea and a big part of my own rediscovery of Jesus’ own life, mission, and values. This is ground zero for understanding Jesus and why you should follow him.
This is specifically a teaching that I did about Matthew Chapter 4 and the well-known story of Jesus being tested by the evil one in the wilderness. One of my biggest goals was to debunk a bunch ideas about Satan and the devil that aren’t actually in the Bible. I think debunking these ideas is a really important part of following Jesus because we should recognize the reality of “evil” and what that means.
We are going to explore probably the most famous story from the Gospel of Matthew in today’s show. It is the Christmas story, or the story of Jesus’s birth (you know, all the iconic images of Joseph and Mary riding on the donkey). So for this sermon, I tried to shake off all that familiarity and read this text from Mary’s perspective. Because interestingly, the story focuses in on her personal narrative. In today’s episode, We also look at how Matthew keeps connecting these events in the early ...more
These sermons originally took almost two years to get through, and it was a remarkable experience for our whole church community. Stories of Jesus can become so over-familiarized that they begin to lack the power and passion and brilliance that they actually possess. Going through this book was an amazing religious and life-transforming experience for me and I hope it is for you too.
These are famous love poems where Paul talks about nature and love in a Christian vocabulary. A lot of love poems from weddings begin right here in this teaching. Paul didn’t write for people getting married, but he actually wrote it to bring local community members together who were riddled with moral compromise. He wanted to give us an idea of what human existence and love was all about, and it manifested into this poem.
The meaning and the symbolism of that final meal left a HUGE impression on the disciples that were there. So much so, that some sort of account has made it into every single one of the Gospels in the New Testament, and even made its way into one of the Apostle Paul’s letters. We did this teaching leading up to resurrection Sunday during holy week. During this episode, I reenact a short version of this Messianic Passover. You’ll hear how Jesus is intentionally explaining what is about to go down...more
This was part of an Advent series that was kind of a stand-alone message the week before Christmas, and it is a reflection on the meaning of hope in the Old Testament. Hope is such an important virtue that God’s people have to actively cultivate throughout their lives. The hope for the Messiah in the Old Testament was a kind of hope that followers of Jesus actually still need to be anticipating… there is still a lot that needs to be fulfilled in the promise of the return of the Messiah. In this...more
You find these words only in the crucifixion account in the Gospel of John. And these words bring into culmination a whole theme throughout the entire story of John’s Gospel. This sermon was from some of my very early days as a pastor at Door of Hope Church. I hope you enjoy this episode.
This episode is a reflection on Daniel Chapter 12 (the last chapter of Daniel) and how it culminates the dreams and visions that Daniel had in the chapters previous to that. Ultimately, this chapter is really a meditation on the hope of the resurrection and new creation. We even explore the roots of the resurrection and new life throughout the Old Testament.
The book of Daniel is about of a group of Israelites who are essentially kidnapped and exiled from their homeland. Daniel and his friends struggle to remain faithful to God in a place that is pressuring them to disobey. This book explores the challenge of being “in the world but not of the world.” It offers valuable lessons to us today, as we try to follow Jesus in the modern world. Listen in to learn more...
The book of Daniel is a story about a group of Israelites who have been exiled from Babylon, and the whole point is to explore what it means to be God’s people when you’re a minority. This book is about the struggle to maintain faithfulness and the struggle to maintain hope. What does it mean to be people who maintain hope and a way of life that says that Jesus is the king of the world? Welcome to Daniel Chapter 7. This whole story is portraying the four characters as models or examples of resi...more
I did this teaching a couple of years ago about Daniel Chapter 3. It is a famous story in the Old Testament about the three guys who get thrown into this Babylonian furnace because they won’t worship an idol of the kingdom of Babylon as if it is God. Because most people are introduced to this story as a children’s story, they miss out on the extremely adult themes in this chapter. This is not a children’s story. It is an example of how nations exult their power, national security, and the econo...more
This first message explores chapter 2 of Daniel. Daniel is a weird book that has a misconception that it is only about ends of timelines. In fact, there is a lot of hope in Daniel too. This episode addresses a story that develops themes from page 1 of Genesis. Get ready for surprises! Let’s dive in…
In today’s teaching we explore the second to last chapter in Hebrews Chapter 12. It brings to a close the theological and pastoral challenge that the pastor has been offering the early Christian. He compares and contracts an experience that the Israelites had as they all camped out at the foot of Mount Sinai after escaping out of slavery in Egypt. He wants to show that our experience of approaching Jesus is both similar and different. Learn more in this episode.
In this teaching we camp out in chapter 11, which is a re-telling of the first 3/4 of the Bible. It highlights all of the characters who had moment of bold and courageous fate. It is one of the few chapters that specifically has the issue of fate and trust at it’s main theme. We let the pastor of this letter define what biblical faith is, and what it means to have that kind of trust and faith in Jesus. Tune in to learn more…
The second half of Hebrews Chapter 10 is one of the stiffest and most challenging warnings that the pastor who wrote the letter gave to this early Christian community. Why doe the author get so intense? Why does this pastor really want the people in this early church community to examine their very motives for following Jesus? What’s up with these challenges? Why is there risk involved in the adventure of following Jesus? More in this episode…
This section is about showing that Jesus is the human embodiment of the priesthood from the Old Testament. Why should we care about Jesus of Nazareth now in the 21st century? The pastor who wrote this letter is convinced that that matters a lot. In fact, the very meaning of Jesus’ life and the resurrection affects your ability to see that he is your priest. Learn more in this episode.
This section is based off of Chapter 6 of the Letters to the Hebrews. It's the pastor's meditation on the nature of God’s covenant promises. What does it mean for people to live as if God really meant what he said when he made his covenant promises to bless all of the nations through Abraham? Why is this such a big deal? Why do promises that God made to somebody thousands of years ago matter to us? We explore these questions in this episode.
In this episode, we dive into Hebrews Chapter 4. In the chapter, the pastor urges these followers of Jesus to remember a whole bunch of themes and stories from all over the Old Testament. He is going to recall the stories of Israel’s wilderness wanderings. They were on the way to the promised land, and he links the life that God wanted to give his people with the theme of Sabbath rest. The pastor then links this story to faith. Faith, by his definition, doesn’t mean you do nothing, but rather i...more
This teaching comes from Hebrews chapter 2 and it is exploring the portrait of Jesus as God becomes human that the anonymous pastor goes into. What is it that human story of Jesus reveals about the glory and power of God? We explore this on today’s episode.
This is a letter that doesn’t actually behave like a letter. There is no proper introduction. So what this first letter does is orient us towards the question “what is the letter to the Hebrews?”. It is kind of like an early Christian sermon, but kind of like a letter too. We talk about what we know (and don’t know) about this letter in this lecture. We also talk about what it means to be the divine identity of Jesus and what that means to be disciples of Jesus.
In this last episode, we are going to look at a phrase that appears in one of the four gospel accounts about Jesus. It’s a phrase that Jesus uses called “being born again” or “born of the spirit”. The phrase comes from Jesus and a conversation that he had with Nicodemus (John Chapter 3), and what Jesus means and what Nicodemus means by this phrase are two different things. We’ll learn more about what they each mean in this episode.
In this episode we are going to look at the way that the spirit’s presence in the Bible story is often connected to a physical building… the temple or the sacred space of God. It’s a major theme uniting the hebrew scriptures and a theme that New Testament authors use to talk about who Jesus is. Then, the theme continues on into the Book of Axe and the letters to the apostles in the New Testament.
In this episode we explore the story of the baptism of Jesus. This story is very powerful and there are many many biblical themes colliding here. This story communicates the love of the father as a gift to the son before the son has done anything at all. This wasn’t just something that Jesus experienced, it was something that he invited his followers to experience as well.
In this message we are going to look at something very personal, very serious... it is the motif of how God’s spirit is particularly present in moments of human pain and suffering. There is something about suffering and pain that brings the whole human experience to this really acute pinpoint type of moment where we are participating in something very deep and very spiritual. We are going to look at a chapter in Roman chapter 8. It is one of the most beautiful depictions of the trinity at work p...more
The longest part of the series is about God’s spirit… what does that even mean? In this teaching called the spirit and the fruit, we are looking at God’s personal creative presence as the one who creates and generates growth and life. What does it mean for the spirit to be at work? We’ll address this in this episode.
If someone didn’t really grow up in a tradition that emphasized the spirit of God, then these are kind of abstract and difficult things for people to incorporate into their thinking and life experience. This is going to explore different facets of the biblical portrayal of the person in work of the spirit. This first teaching is mostly hanging out on page one of the bible and then following the thread of the spirit as creator and giver of life throughout the Old and New Testaments.
In this episode we’re exploring the story of Jesus. We’re going to explore the version from the Gospel of Mark. Jesus fundamentally redefines his understanding of God by his acts of forgiveness and healing. How does forgiveness reveal something fundamental about God’s heartbeat? We address this question and more in this episode.
This teaching is more like story time rather than a lecture. I wanted to try to capture the story that is driving the fist three quarters of the Bible. I begin on page one of the Old Testament and narrate the story as different people contribute with scriptures. The goal of this was to help us rebuild our portrait of God by grounding it in the actual biblical story.
This teaching is about character and the role of God as a judge of human behavior (specifically human’s moral behavior). What does it mean to say that “God brings to bear his justice on our behavior and evaluates it according to justice”? Is that bad news or good news? We explore Exodus 34 to learn what it means for God to be a judge.
This first teaching explores the word “God” both in English and in the Bible. I discuss the divine name of God revealed through Moses to the people Israel. If you’re going to get to know someone, you have to start with their name. We explore what God’s name means in this episode.
This teaching is based on the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul talks about how the good news about Jesus should influence the day to day relationships in the home. He talks about parents and children, and then he addresses slavery. How does slavery get re-examined and reshaped in the good news about Jesus? If the slave owner and the slave are both followers of Jesus, does that make them equal? We learn more about power and authority in this episode.
This teaching explores how Paul challenges the Christians to explore God’s spirit. The whole debate about God’s spirit and how he expresses God’s powers is very controversial conversations. However, the Apostle Paul actually intended the exact opposite - he wanted the spirit to be something that united Christians.
This teaching comes from chapter 4. It is where Paul shifts, specifically from focusing on practical out-workings in day to day life of the grand vision of the good news about Jesus that he explored in the first half of his letter. In the first half of the letter, he shares this grand vision of Jesus as the redeemer and resurrected king of a new humanity that’s made up of every kind of person ethnically/socioeconomically/culturally. The second half of the letter, he explores what it is actually ...more
It was important to Paul that Jesus' followers were a diverse group of people across many ethnicities. In this teaching, we explore Paul’s vision for diversity and bridging relationships among people who are different but unified under Christianity.
This first teaching is actually from the middle of chapter 1. It’s a prayer that Paul prays for the followers of Jesus in Ephesus. It’s an amazing prayer where he prays for power. The kind of power that Paul thinks that followers of Jesus have access to is a very different conception of power. It’s a power that was expressed when Jesus gave up his life and was resurrected by the power of love and self-sacrifice. This is exactly the kind of power that Paul wants followers of Jesus to recognize.
In this teaching we are going to explore Psalm 73, which is a prayer where the poet is expressing a crisis of faith. When he looks at the world, he doesn’t see a world that his faith can always make sense of. In fact, it is the opposite. It seems like many of the things that this poet believes about God are contradicted by what he sees going on around him.
This teaching was exploring what it means to talk to God when we have seriously screwed up: hurt others, hurt ourselves, dishonored others and God, etc. How can we even talk to God in moments where we’re feeling so ashamed?
Pslams teach us that protesting to God about horrors that take place in our world is a crucially important habit that we need to adopt. In this episode, We explore Pslam 22. We’re reflecting on the poets experience of extreme suffering and pain. We address what it means to hold on to the conviction that ‘God is good’ and has redemptive purposes when the world seems like it is falling apart. This poem teaches us the meaning of ‘lament’ and ‘protest’. It is very powerful, there is so much going on...more
As a new follower of Jesus, I loved the Book of Psalms. I remember realizing for the first time that multiple points in Jesus’s life teaching, he used the language of the psalm to express his own thoughts. Jesus models for us what it means to use the psalms as language for our own prayers. This first teaching is based on Psalm 3, it is about learning how to pray in the midst of great fear and anxiety in our lives.
In this teaching we are exploring the word “covenant” and how it is crucially important for understanding the storyline architecture of the whole story of the bible. It really only gets used in a small number of ways in modern English.
In this episode we’re exploring a biblical word that is commonly used, but mostly not understood: glory. This is actually a crucially important concept for understanding the Old Testament and the New Testament.
In this first teaching, I explore the biblical word and concept of holiness: God’s holiness, people’s holiness, the story underneath it all, and more. This is an extremely important idea for understanding what followers of Jesus believe about God and themselves.
In this episode, we explore the final pages of the bible (Revelation chs. 21-22) and how they describe the resurrection and the new creation. In this poetic visions, John shows how the new creation is both similar and dissimilar to the world as we currently experience. What does that mean? Why is that important? We address these questions in this episode… take a listen!
In this teaching we are going to explore the apostle Paul’s most in-depth conversation about the resurrection in 1 Corinthians It one the most important discussions of resurrection hope in the whole New Testament. Here he ponders the nature of the kind of physical body that Jesus after his resurrection, and what that means for his followers. He's very concerned to show how the new creation will be continuous with our current experience of the world, but also really different at the same time. ...more
This episode dives into one of the most beautiful chapters of Paul’s writings- Romans Ch. 8. We watch him retell the story from Genesis to Revelation with the images drawn from the Old Testament book of the Exodus. It’s a story about slavery and God’s liberation and moving into freedom and the promised land. For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus opens up a whole new future and hope for humanity, and for the universe itself.
In this episode we'll explore the nature of Christian hope from 1 Peter ch.1. We'll learn the story of a Holocaust survivor named Victor Frankel and what he learned about human psychology and hope. This story gives us a profound insight into the important role that hope based on the resurrection of Jesus can play in our lives.
This episode explores a story about the appearance of the resurrected Jesus in the Gospel of Luke Ch. 24. Two disciples who spent a lot of time with Jesus are suddenly blind to his true identity; they can't recognize him! What's up with that? This beautifully told story shows how Jesus' own followers can become blind to who he really is, because of the pre-loaded assumptions about him. Truly seeing Jesus means surrendering our most cherished beliefs about the world, God, and ourselves and allowi...more
In this teaching, we'll continue exploring the portrait of the first "church" community in Acts ch.2, specifically how they committed to sharing their resources with each other. This shows us a core habit of the church from the beginning, crossing over the boundary lines between ourselves and other people, and releasing our time and resources into their lives. Why is it so hard to share our stuff? Why does church play such a critical part in helping us learn this habit? We explore these quest...more
In this teaching we'll explore the first depiction of "the church" in Acts ch. 2. What we discover may surprise you! We see a group of people committing to each other and to Jesus so they can learn new ideas and form new habits of living and thinking together, all centered around Jesus. Being open to new ideas is not the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think of Christians. That's because we've lost a key part of the mindset of a "disciple," a word that means "learner." So let'...more
This episode draws together all the ideas of the previous three lectures. We explore the images of eternal death and what these images mean, and the images used by Jesus in his teachings about God’s final justice. In the second half, we talk about the images of new creation, resurrection, and eternal life. We explore what Jesus and the Apostles have to say about this. Then, we focus on the last two pages of the Bible and ponder the beautiful hope of heaven and earth reunited in the renewed crea...more
The definitions of human life and death on pages 1-3 of the bible are based on the idea that humans can live in a state of death. The goal of God’s rescue mission is to take people out of “living death” and transfer them into a mode of “eternal life” here in the present. According to the biblical story, these are the two ways to be human being - to be among the living dead or to be among the truly living. Keeping this in mind, in this episode we move onto a new part of the story which is the Ol...more
In this lecture we tackle the biblical word “heaven," and what that does and does not mean. From there we tackle the language about life and death throughout the rest of the bible. What you’ll see pretty clearly is that biblical authors don’t see death as something that just happens to you at the end of your physical life. Rather, from page 3 of the bible on, both life and death are present realities. Basically, the concept of zombies is a biblical idea. Most of these ideas aren’t mine. I brou...more
In this first episode we explore the popular misunderstandings and distortions of the concepts of heaven and hell in Western culture. This will help us rediscover what the Scriptures are actually trying to say. This is really just an effort to clear the ground and help people rebuild these concepts. We start on page 1 of the Bible and work through it, looking at the themes of life, death, the grave, eternal life, and eternal death, etc. I’ll just say this… prepare to be surprised. I was surpris...more
In this teaching we explore how Jesus' concept of prayer included asking God to act and acting oneself. We'll focus on the Lord's prayer, and discover within it a vision of praying and acting that promotes dependence on God as well as action. At the end of this teaching, I play the Lord’s Prayer, sung in ancient Aramaic by a Syrian-orthodox nun in Jerusalem.
In this teaching we'll explore the ancient practice of fasting, withholding food from yourself for a symbolic and intentional reason. This practice marked the lives of many ancient Israelites, of Jesus himself, and it was a habit that was carried on in the early Jesus-movement as well. However, this practice was also accompanied by regular periods of feasting to celebrate God's generosity and grace. What exactly are these habits? How do they balance with each other? Why is it important to have ...more
This teaching is called “Solitude & Community”. In the New Testament, "church" is the gathering of Jesus' followers into a community of support and worship. But in the life of Jesus, that communal practice is also matched by the habit of regular solitude. What is this practice all about, and why was it so important to Jesus?
This teaching comes from the final chapters of the Book of Revelation, where we find many images about the time when heaven and earth are brought together. The phrase "eternal life" for many people conjures up images of a non-physical, spiritual world where you live forever with God. This is not the idea of "eternal life" in the Bible, so let's check our assumptions at the door and open our minds to learn all over again what it means to hope for the arrival of eternity!
In this teaching we'll explore chapter 10 of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews, specifically the challenge that Jesus' followers need to gather on a regular basis. Specifically, we'll look at the really cool images in this passage that illustrate the importance of gathering together alongside other habits that foster a life of faith. This message challenged me and my expectation about church. I hope it is helpful for you too.
In this teaching we'll explore Paul's vision of Jesus-style generosity in 2 Corinthians chapter 8. In Paul's mind, the good news about Jesus becomes most persuasive when his followers are living with incredible generosity. Giving away resources when it makes no sense is a powerful way of showing people that Jesus is truly the risen Lord of the world.
This episode explores what the word “witness” means in the New Testament. The way this word is used in the apostles' writing is a bit different than how modern Christians have come to use it. We'll explore what it means for a group of people to bear witness to Jesus together. We'll also explore Paul's farewell speech in Acts Chapter 20 and discover how important it is to protect the witness of a church community so that it's representation of Jesus is faithful and not distorted.
This teaching explores Jesus' call to a radical way of life in following him. It's based on Luke Chapter 14, which includes some very challenging sayings of Jesus about counting the cost of following him. We will consider the balance between Jesus’s generous grace as he invites everyone into his community, as well as his stiff challenge about the great cost and sacrifice that is going to be required. Many of us have a difficult time balancing Jesus' generosity with his intense call to follow . ...more
In this teaching we explore the Gospel of Mark's introduction to Jesus and his basic message and mission. We discover that announcing the arrival of God's kingdom was Jesus' greatest priority. For the most part modern Western people have not truly heard what Jesus was trying to get across, and so the concept of God's kingdom is not familiar to most people. Instead of importing our ideas about what Christianity is, we need to recover the apostles' presentation of Jesus in the New Testament. So t...more
Should the fact that I am a follower of Jesus mean that I think differently about my work and career? If so, how? In this teaching, I explore how our hopes about the ultimate outcome of history have a significant impact on how we think about our day to day jobs and career goals. Many Christians adopt the view that the world will ultimate be destroyed when Jesus returns, and that our day to day lives don't matter very much. But this is the opposite of what we find in the teaching of the Apostle P...more
In this teaching, I compare what constitute work in the story line of the bible vs. how modern American culture defines work. We will look at Genesis chapters 1-3 and see how work is not a curse but actually one of the greatest gifts that God has given to humans.
In this message, I explore the concept of work and labor in the book of Ecclesiastes. The teacher wants to show us that it's impossible to create meaning in your life from one's vocation or career. But, this doesn’t mean that we should quit working. Rather, we must learn how to see our life's work in a larger context, helping us navigate through both success and failure. The teacher offers practical wisdom and guidance about having a job, and how to enjoy both the mundane and the beautiful parts...more
In this episode, we explore how how acknowledging that all of life is "vapor" (Hebrew "hevel") can lead to the enjoyment of the small and simple delights we encounter in day to day life.
In this first episode we unpack the introduction to the book of Ecclesiastes and touch upon the issues of authorship. Mostly we'll camp out on the core the metaphor the teachers uses to talk about all of life. It's the Hebrew word “hevel” which means vapor or smoke. You won't be able to see my hand-carved Danish tobacco pipe, but you'll hear all about it. It's a powerful image to talk about the fleeting nature and unpredictability of all of life.
This last episode is about the manuscript history of the New Testament, as well as a short history of English translations. In the second half of this lecture, we talk about the process and the dynamics at work in collecting the books of the bible into the “canon," a technical term referring to the authoritative collection of the biblical books.
In this episode we dive into the composition and writing of the book of the New Testament. Specifically, we'll look at how the books themselves give us clues about when and how they were written. As we learn more about where the Bible came from, we gain a deeper sense of what the Bible is and what we're supposed to do with it.
In this series we explore how the Bible was written and the long process of its composition and manuscript history. The bible is a book with a very traceable history, it was not written in secret. The authors of these texts were of course humans, but they also claimed that through these human words God speaks to his people. It's important to keep the divine and human nature of the Bible in balance. Many people think that believing the Bible is God's word necessitates believing it came into exist...more
In this episode, we focus on the purpose of the laws in the story line of the Torah and the whole Bible. The story about the covenant that God made with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai makes up 2/3 of the entire Torah. There are 613 laws that God gives to Israel at Mount Sinai. In this lecture, we’ll talk about where the laws come in the story, and how the stories offer important commentary on the laws. In short, the Torah is showing how the Israelites were unable to truly love and obey God...more
This part camps out in the second book of the bible, Exodus. We explore the story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the liberation of the Israelites that all culminates in the night of Passover. This was one of the most important foundation stories for the Israelite people in ancient times, and its crucially important for understanding Jesus. He timed his arrival into Jerusalem for the Passover feast and at the Last Supper he used the Passover symbols to explain the meaning of his coming death. From there...more
After many years of pastoral ministry I found that some of the main misunderstandings people have about Jesus come from misunderstanding the larger biblical story that he brought to fulfillment. When we try to understand who Jesus was without reference to the Old Testament, it's kind of like watching the Star Wars movies, but skipping the first episode. You can follow what's going on, but you won't really understand the deeper elements of the story. This set of lectures was my effort to condens...more
Many people believe that science and religious faith are bitter enemies with conflicting views of the universe. One the one hand there is the scientific account of the origins of life and then there is the story of universal origins told by the bible. But is this tension real, or is it based on a deep misunderstanding of what the Bible is and how it communicates? This is a lecture I gave at a Science and Faith conference at Blackhawk Church in Madison, WI in the year 2011. I ask what it means to...more
In the final episode we see Jonah's response when God forgives his enemies. He's hot with anger and chews God out for being to gracious. This part of the story challenges us to reconsider Jesus' teaching to love and forgive our enemies, those people in our lives who are the most difficult.
Jonah goes very much against his own desires to the ancient city of Nineveh. He utters a very strange five word sermon and the people of Nineveh have a very interesting response. Also, we discuss the meaning of the biblical word “repentance” and what it does and doesn’t mean.
In this episode we ponder the very strange and beautifully intricate poem that Jonah utters in the belly of the fish. This is a powerful and heavily ironic moment in the story. This poem represents a moment when one of God’s people is in crisis. Jonah discovers that his crisis is actually God’s work to bring him to the end of himself. Jonah’s experience in this story forces us to think about similar moments of crisis in our own lives.
Jonah is ironically portrayed as God’s own prophet, but he is the only person who really refuses to listen to God. This episode explores how Jonah is “asleep at the wheel” and deaf to God and everything that God uses to communicate to him. This story invites us in to think about our own lack of perception and awareness of the ways that God might be trying to get through to us.
In this episode I’m laying the groundwork for exploring the story of Jonah with new eyes: Who is Jonah? Why did he flee and get on a boat to Tarshish? And why is his story in the Bible? We also ponder the question of why Jonah ran from God. He thought he was saving his own life, but in reality, he was running from real life. Followers of Jesus face the same choice today, whether or not we will let go of our own vision of the “good life” and instead take up Jesus’ vision for our lives.
Introducing Exploring My Strange Bible