Friday, October 25, 2013


Have you ever felt unsatisfied in your relationship with Jesus? Have you ever been frustrated with your own spiritual walk with Him? Perhaps you assumed that it was because you weren’t a member of a better church, or maybe you were convinced it was because you weren’t spiritual enough, or praying enough, or reading the Bible enough?

Recently I had an epiphany of sorts as I listened to a friend of mine express a similar frustration. What I realized was this: We will never be fully satisfied spiritually until we see Jesus face to face.

And that’s a good thing, by the way.  

I think it is only because we are unsatisfied that we pursue Him more. Our awareness of a greater need for Jesus is partly how the Holy Spirit draws us nearer to our Lord.

What we should be most concerned about is a lack of desire to know Jesus more.

But here and now, the simple fact we must face is that if we are living in this flesh and blood reality we will never be fully satisfied. We also need to be careful not to diagnose this overwhelming dissatisfaction as a failure of our church family, or even our own lack of spiritual perfection. What’s missing is the full and complete presence of Jesus in our life. That’s what we’re longing for, and that is what we must pursue, but we have to do so without condemning ourselves, or others in the Body of Christ.

One day we will see Him face to face and then we will be satisfied in His presence. But here and now we are simply called to hunger for more hunger and to thirst for greater thirst. This holy desire draws us nearer to Jesus, but it will not ever be fully satisfied until we are physically in His arms.

“You broke the bonds and you loosed the chains; carried the cross of my shame. You know I believe it. But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” – Bono, U2

Stay hungry.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bearing Lemons

Lately I've been wondering whether or not God has any use for me. Specifically, I've been pretty self-critical about my own apparent lack of spiritual fruit.

As I've shared recently, the Lord has reminded me that His love for me is absolute and unconditional. But there was still more He wanted to show me.

Last Sunday morning, one of our dear sisters in the Lord shared something that God had been showing her as she worked in her garden. She said, "Every time I look at our lemon tree, I think of you, Keith."

We had a few laughs about how the sour lemons symbolized my pessimistic tendencies, but then she continued. "A few months ago you had shared with us about how you really wanted for God to show you the fruit of your ministry, and ever since I've felt like God was showing me that your time is coming. Just like this lemon tree. The fruit isn't ripe yet, but those lemons are just so big. They are going to be huge and ripe very soon. I feel like this is God's way of saying that you will see your fruit very soon."

That really blessed me. This assurance came out of the blue, at a time when I was already doubting God's love for me and his unconditional acceptance.

That evening she emailed me a photo (the one attached to this article) to show me just how large the lemons were. She said, "Keith, the lemon tree is in a pot, and from the picture you can't see
much of the fruit. But you can see the relative size of the lemons...and they're starting to turn--can you see the beginning of yellow? Lord, give Keith fruit in his life that will remain!"

So, while I'm not totally sure why the Lord chose lemons as my metaphorical fruit, I do hope that there's room in his kingdom for a nice tall glass of lemonade in the coming days.

Hopefully this encourages you as well to place your hope in Him for whatever fruit may come in your life. Honestly, the process of bearing fruit is the work the Lord does in and through us. It's really nothing we can control, other than to cooperate with Him in that process.

“Jesus said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Love Like That

After our recent "Coffee, Tea and Jesus" gathering, the woman whose home we were meeting in (a total stranger before that evening) asked if she could pray over Wendy and I. Of course, we said, "Yes."

As she prayed for us, it was clear that she had several specific words of encouragment for both Wendy and myself. One thing she shared was that God looked at me and was very pleased. But honestly, as she prayed these things I sat there in disbelief.

I did not accept this in my heart because when I think about what God must feel when He looks at me all I come up with is "disappointment". All I can see is how much I've blown it and how far I've missed the mark.

Still, the word she gave us was very beautiful and touching. We thanked her for her blessing, but deep down I wasn't buying it.

Later that night I prayed and asked the Lord, "If what she said was really what you think of me and how you feel about me, I need you to confirm it through some other witness."

On Sunday evening, my oldest son was sitting at our computer working on his homework. I felt an urge to surprise him with a blessing, so I took my brand new noise-cancelling headphones and placed them over his head as he worked. Then I set my iPod to one of his favorite songs and started to play it. He looked up at me, smiled, and nodded his head to the music.

As I left the room, I distinctly heard the Lord whisper to me, "That's how I feel about you, my son. I just love you. I love blessing you. I love you because you are made in my image, not because of what you've done, or what you fail to do. I just love you, Keith."

I couldn't help crying tears of joy as these words washed over me.

Suddenly, I remembered the week that my son was first born. He slept between Wendy and I for a few weeks and one morning I woke up before either of them. My son was asleep between us and I was overwhelmed with love for him. Why? I wondered. He hasn't spoken a word. He hasn't done anything for me. He couldn't if he wanted to. But I loved him so much. I would die for him right now. I would do anything to protect him, to bless him, to show him my love.

In that moment, God spoke to me and said, "That's how much I love you, my son."

The memory of that word, combined with this fresh reminder of His enduring love was just so beautiful to me. All I could do was say, "Thank you, Lord."

He loves me. Now I believe it.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Coffee, Tea and Jesus.

Last week a sister from our house church family had a great idea. She decided to invite a few friends over to her house for an evening of coffee, tea and the Gospel. Specifically, the purpose was to gather together in order to read through the entire Gospel of Mark all at once.

Wendy and I were among the few who attended, along with two other people and our friend’s roommate.

After everyone had their tea or their coffee and a small handful of homemade pumpkin bread or dried fruit, we sat down in the living room and began to read, after a short opening prayer.

Each of us had a slightly different translation to read from, and that was just fine. Some of us had NIV, or ESV, or NKJV, and our friend even read from a Children’s Bible.

As we began to read, we all began to notice things we had never noticed before. But since our goal was to read through the Gospel of Mark all at once we held our thoughts until the end.

Some of us ended up reading sections of scripture that seemed quite appropriate to our individual walk. Others found themselves choking up as they read the words of Jesus. Some even noticed humorous conversations and comments within the passages that made them smile or laugh quietly during the reading.

After the reading, which took about an hour and a half, we took turns sharing how the Lord had spoken to us during the evening. Certain events took on new meaning as we began to understand the context in which they were took place. Teachings that Jesus gave suddenly meant something slightly different than we had originally thought once we could see the bigger picture.

Some details were minor. For example, I had never noticed before that the woman with the issue of blood had struggled for 12 years, which was the same age as the daughter of Jarius who Jesus was on his way to heal when she touched him. Somehow the juxtaposition of a woman who had been imprisoned in her body through suffering and a young girl whose life had lasted equally as long before expiring seemed strangely significant.

Still others noticed how dull the disciples seemed to be; always misunderstanding Jesus, arguing about who was the greatest, rebuking someone who was healing in Jesus’ name, forbidding the children to come to Jesus, fearing for their lives in the storm, and yet their constant foolishness and weakness only served to glorify Jesus all the more.

This was such a wonderful experience that our friend is determined to do it again. Maybe with another Gospel (Matthew or John) taken in chunks (like part one this week and part two and even part three if necessary in the weeks to follow).

What I loved most about all of this was my friend’s hunger for more of Jesus and His word. I loved that this hunger inspired her to do something about it, and to invite others to join with her in this. I especially love that I had nothing to do with it other than to show up and participate as one of those who was desperate for more of Him.

Are you hungry for more of Jesus too? If so, I’d highly recommend hosting your very own “Coffee, Tea and Jesus” gathering. Start with the Gospel of Mark (it’s the shortest Gospel), and invite a few friends to participate with you. There’s no need for a Bible teacher, no need for any seminary-trained leader to officiate. Just hungry people and a handful of Bibles meeting together to ask the Holy Spirit to lead them into all Truth.

It might even be a great way to ask your neighbors to learn more about Jesus too. Especially if they know that they’re not expected to do anything other than to read about Jesus and listen to Him speak.

Let me know if you try it. I’d love to know how it goes.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


There is a gap between what I believe and what I practice.

For example, I believe that Jesus commands me to practice radical enemy-love and nonviolence, but in practice I enjoy watching violent films.

I believe that Jesus calls me to love others as I love myself, but in practice I am quite selfish and often put my own needs ahead of others.

I believe that Jesus commands me to share my abundance with the poor, but in practice I use my disposal income to purchase a lot of useless things for my own pleasure.

I believe that Jesus commands me to love other Christians as a reflection of my love for Him, but in practice I often find it more difficult to love my brothers and sisters in Christ than other people around me.

I believe that Jesus calls us to serve others in humility, but I often find myself looking for the praise of others and I sometimes feed on that recognition.

I believe that Jesus loves me more than any other person alive, but sometimes I find it very easy to ignore Him.

There's a large gap between the beliefs I hold in my heart and my daily practice of faith. I suspect you may also share the same kinds of struggles.

The reason why we constantly struggle to align our faith with our practice is this: We're not capable of success.

See, when I read the words of Jesus they are so true and so beautiful that my spirit soars. I cannot help but to acknowledge the truth and the wisdom behind His message, but the part I forget is that without Him none of it works.

The problem is me. I am a member of a race of people who have fallen short of the glory of God. This is why Jesus had to come in the flesh in the first place - because we were not capable of doing what God wanted us to do by ourselves.

Jesus stepped down into the muck with us. He demonstrated unsurpassed humility and weakness. He let go of all of His power and authority and embraced a complete dependence upon the Father. This is how Jesus lived the sinless life. This is how He fulfilled the Law and the Prophets.

Then, Jesus turned around and told us that He could do nothing apart from the Father. He also told us that we could do nothing apart from Him. He commanded us to love one another, and to love God and He said that we would never even come close to making that work without remaining in constant and continual reliance upon Himself.

So, my failure to live out the values of His Kingdom is simply due to my attempt to fly solo. This is where I fall down. This is where I am confronted with my own weakness.

The solution? To cling to Jesus daily. To trust in Him for everything. To remain as close to Him as possible every moment of every day. To pray this simple prayer without ceasing - "Help me, Jesus. Help me."

This weakness in my flesh is actually the power of Christ at work in me, if I am connected to Christ. Without that connection, it is only weakness.

The gap between my practice and my faith is equal to the distance between myself and Jesus.
Mind the gap.


Thursday, October 10, 2013


In the middle of his teaching about the Kingdom, Jesus was interrupted by a man in the crowd who said, “Rabbi, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Now, this wasn’t out of the ordinary. Rabbis often settled legal matters such as this one, but Jesus is quick to point out to the man that he was more than a Rabbi, he was the Messiah who was proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom.

Then, Jesus turns back to the crowd and uses the interruption as a spring board to warn them about the love of money, saying:

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

Essentially, God has blessed the man in the parable with more than he can use. Instead of sharing what he has with those around him living in poverty, he decided to hoard it all for himself. But before he can enjoy it, he dies that same night and loses everything.

Now, it’s too easy to make this a parable about rich people. Jesus doesn’t do that. He warns all of us not to put our trust in possessions and wealth, regardless of our current financial situation.

Truthfully, this parable has cut me to the heart recently. I’ve realized that Jesus is talking to me directly here. I’ve been living my life lately as if it is all about me and my comfort. Everything I do seems to have one single purpose at the center of it – to serve my flesh.

No, I’m not talking about anything as repugnant as lust or pornography here. I’m talking about the simple pampering of my flesh with endless entertainment, good food, and the basic desire to be made comfortable and happy at all times.

But that’s not my calling. I am called, as every follower of Christ is called, to lay down my life for others. I’m called to seek the well-being of others before I seek my own. I’m called to suffer for the sake of the Gospel and to take up my cross daily. That’s not comfortable or safe.

The wisdom of Jesus here is simple. Everything you and I own will one day belong to someone else. As Paul says:

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. (1 Tim. 6:6-8)

This is what an Eternal perspective looks like. It’s why Jesus urges us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread” because our goal should be to live daily by the grace of God, not out of the abundance of our own sufficiency.

Simply put, the Kingdom is not about us. We need to let that sink in. Deep. The Kingdom is not about us. It’s about the King. Our part is to love Him and to love others as He has loved us.

One thing that sticks out to me in the parable that Jesus tells is the final word about being “rich towards God.” What does that mean?

I believe the answer is found in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Am I rich? Compared to the rest of the World, yes. Compared to most people around me, no. But that’s beside the point. The simple truth is that I am just like the rich man in the parable that Jesus shares. I have more than enough for myself and my family. We have all we need and a little bit extra. So, what am I to do with that extra? I believe that Jesus is calling me to surrender all of that to Him – and myself – for the eternal work of the Kingdom.

This is only the beginning.



Tuesday, October 08, 2013

How To Leave A Traditional Church

I recently received an email from someone who had a question after reading my book.

"Hi Keith,

Thanks for your book, "This Is My Body". I've been on a journey for the last two years or so as I work out what organic New Testament Christianity looks like.

 There is one thing I am wrestling with that I hope you can help me process: How does one leave a traditional church gracefully, without losing the relationship of genuine spiritual mothers and fathers? While I may not agree with the model of church that they subscribe to, my issue is not with them personally as believers. These are people who have laughed and cried with me and encouraged me to pursue the dreams God has placed on my heart. I'm now convinced of the need for Christians to gather in a more organic way like a house church setting, but equally convinced that there has to be a better way to do this than just telling my church "You guys have got it wrong. I've found a better way. See ya!” 

Does that make sense?"

Since I believe this is a common question that many struggle with, here’s my answer:

First of all, when it’s time for you to go you’ll know it. The pain of staying will be greater than the pain of leaving to pursue a more organic form of New Testament church.

But, when you do leave, be sure to leave well. As it says:

"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." (Romans 12:18)

Just so you know, it might not be possible to leave without a few hurt feelings, especially on the part of your pastor and leadership staff. They will most likely see your exit as a betrayal and as a criticism of their ministry no matter how hard you try.

Even so, make sure to bless them on your way out. They may not bless you, but you need to bless them.

To do this, ask the Lord to give you love and mercy and grace for them, even as they mock you and shun you and slander you behind your back. Consider this is an exercise in sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

Also, remember that you are not "leaving the church" because the Church is the Body of Christ (all over the world). Yes, you are choosing not to fellowship with a specific group of Christians in a certain place and time, but you are not leaving Christ - therefore you are not leaving His Church.

This also means that you are still a member of those people. They are still your brothers and sisters, and you should treat them as such even after you step away from that fellowship. In other words, don’t break the bond of love, even if you break the bond of weekly fellowship.

Now, I have to ask, “What are you leaving for?” I mean, where are you going next? Are you looking to start a house church in your community? Are you looking to join an existing group? What's next? Where is the Lord leading you?

This is just as important as “How do I leave?” because you have to know what it is that God is leading you to go and do next. Even if all you know is that you’re going to pursue a more open meeting where every believer is free to participate and share according to their gifting, you still have to have some idea of what comes next.

Finally, just remember, you are not alone. There are hundreds and thousands of other Christians who have made this same step.

If you're not already part of a house church community, I'd suggest joining a few Organic Church groups on Facebook.

The important thing is to move closer to Jesus in this process, and to move closer  to the Body life experience that you know is part of God's plan for you and your family. Don't walk away from one fellowship into a vacuum. That's probably even worse than staying where you are.



Wednesday, October 02, 2013


The New Testament has a lot to say about nothing. It says that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37), Jesus can do nothing on His own (John 5:30), and we can do nothing without Jesus (John 15:5).

It also says that without love we are nothing (1 Cor. 13), Jesus made Himself nothing, and that we should also become nothing to follow His example, (Phil. 2).

Finally, we’re told that we brought nothing into this world with us and we can take nothing out of it when we leave (1 Tim. 6:7), but if we can learn to rejoice in our sufferings and trials in this life – trusting that God is able to make everything work together for our good – then we will become perfect and complete and lack nothing (James 1:4).


Nothing is awesome.