Sunday, December 26, 2010


If I'm aware of anything today, it's how much I still need Jesus to come and change my heart.

After all these years, I am still at square one. Learning to love others more than I love myself is my greatest challenge. Putting the needs of others above my own is still impossible for me.

In my heart of hearts I am still a petty, selfish, judgemental, impatient mess. I long for Jesus to come and live in me today just as desperately as I did when I first asked Him into my heart at the age of 9.

Without Him I can do nothing. He is my life. He is my only hope. Nothing good lives in me apart from Jesus. He is my Messiah. I am utterly and hopelessly lost without Jesus.

This is why I find joy in this season. Because Jesus humbled Himself and left the splendor of Heaven to become a baby born to poor parents. He became nothing and made himself a servant. Why? Because, for some reason, he loves me. He loves all mankind enough to let go of everything to win us back and make a way for us to be with Him forever.

Jesus is Emmanuel, which means "God with us", and I am so grateful today that God is with me, and for me, even when I am so totally hopeless and lost.

Today our family read Isaiah 53 together. It's a prophecy from roughly 600 years or more before Christ, and yet it speaks so specifically about Jesus as our suffering Messiah. It tells us that he will be pierced for us, and bruised in our place, and that by his stripes we are healed.

One thing I noticed today that I have not noticed before is how Isaiah's prophecy is written in the past tense. As if all of these things had already happened when Isaiah penned them over 600 years before they actually occured. Perhaps that's why John tells us in Revelation that Christ is "the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8)

In God's heart, in His eternal plan, the sacrificial death of Christ was a done deal before the creation of the universe. It was certain. It was sure. Even as a future event, it was appropriate to speak of it as if it had already taken place.

This is how we should approach all of the promises of God. All of them are as good as done, because He has said so. He does not lie. He can not fail. He will not let us down. Ever.

Somehow, God will make you and I - the followers of Christ - into the exact image of His Son. This miracle will happen. He will accomplish it. It is as good as done, even though at this moment we are anything but the Christ-like people He is making us into.

"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure."
(1 John 3:2-3)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thoughts on the End of a Year

My house is full of family for the next two weeks. The rain is falling, non-stop from a steel gray sky. We haven't seen the sky or the sun for days now.

Here at the end of the year, I am unsure of how to summarize all of it. Losing my friend Robert Higgins to bone cancer eclipses nearly everything else.

My youngest son will turn 13 at the end of this month. I'm afraid I've not done all that I should to disciple my two boys. I only have six or seven more years with them before they graduate high school and enter college. Can I redeem the time?

There are people in my life that I hope to encourage more: Angelica, our Easter Angel, is planning to be baptized this week as a Mormon. Hopefully we can convince her otherwise. Our neighbors are struggling to get their lives together. How do we help them without enabling them in their addictions? What's best for their children? How do we cooperate with what God is doing in their lives without interfering in the process?

My passport came in the mail yesterday. Where will God take me in the year to come? Mexico? India? The Phillipines? Nowhere? I'm not sure.

We've partnered with Saddleback church to plant a discipleship-based organic church at the motel in Santa Ana. This Sunday will be their third gathering. A year from now I hope they are stronger, more mature followers of Christ who are empowered to make new disciples.

We've formed a loose co-op of local house churches to provide connection points and resources for those in the Orange County area interested in forming or joining house churches.

We've seen miraculous answers to prayer this year: A lost brother was found walking along the sidewalk where his car had broken down. A marriage that seemed forever broken was healed and mended. A mom who was counting her days before the cancer took her life was miraculously and absolutely healed completely. A son was reunited with his long-lost father.

But what does God hold in store for us in 2011? Of course, we cannot know. Sitting here now I can only guess, and make plans and pray.

I hope to finish my third book, "This Is My Body" and publish it soon. I hope to publish a collection of my interviews, too. I hope to see God do something amazing in our house church family. I hope to go deeper with Christ in my personal life, and to seek Him more with my wife and my sons.

In a general sense, I hope to really understand more about who I am as a person; what I have to offer as a father, a husband, a follower of Jesus, and a friend. I hope to let go of things that do not matter and I hope to take hold of Christ who has taken hold of me.

There are these separate ideals that I click through like some sort of internal Viewmaster reel: God's heart for the poor, the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Priesthood of all Believers, the New Testament model of ecclesia, the separation of Christ and State, following Jesus in my daily life, and loving others as Christ has loved me.

What I hope to experience more this year is the integration of all of these things into my life as a single, cohesive reality.

Beyond these ideas themselves, I know that the key is to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ Himself. Each of these things is found and embodied in Christ, Jesus.

He must increase. I must decrease.

This is my prayer for 2011.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Baby Emme Loves Me

My friend Jason Herring sent me this photo today of his infant daughter Emme. Perhaps she loves my book so much because her Daddy was reading this in the waiting room the day she was born?

Seriously, Jason is a very gifted musician and I'm blessed to know him.

Here's the note he sent along with the photo:

Hey Keith...

So my "almost 1 year old" daughter decided she wanted to ransack my nightstand this morning. Looks like she wanted to catch up a little reading. I suppose she wanted the Maglite in case she ended up in poor lighting somewhere and hadn't yet finished her devotion.


Your pal,
Jason Herring

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Here are two quotes from two different people concerning their personal faith in Christ to consider.

Person A: "I was humbled to learn that God sent His Son to die for a sinner like me. I was comforted to know that through the Son, I could find God's amazing grace, a grace that crosses every border, every barrier and is open to everyone. Through the love of Christ's life, I could understand the life changing powers of faith."

Person B: "Jesus Christ dying for my sins spoke to the humility we all have to have as human beings - that we're sinful and we're flawed and we make mistakes, and that we achieve salvation through the grace of God."

After reading these two quotes which of them do you think is pretending? Do either of these quotes strike you as doubtful? What if I told you that both of these quotes were from the same person? Would these statements feel consistent to you?

What if I told you that both of these quotes were from death row inmates? Each of them was guilty of murder, and one of them of rape. Can you guess which one of them was guilty of rape?

Now, what if I said that both of these quotes were from two different Presidents? (They are). Can you guess which of them is the Republican and which one is the Democrat? Unless you're already familiar with the quotation, I'm betting you couldn't do more than guess which one was conservative and which one was a liberal. (And it would only be a wild guess at that).

The fact is that, without knowing who said something, we cannot judge any further than the words themselves. We can only read the words apart from our bias and take the words at face value.

Are these men speaking truthfully? We don't really know. We can only take their word for it, honestly. In fact, we really can't even judge their statement of faith based on their behavior because all of us who follow Christ are sinners.

I think this is partly why Jesus commands us not to judge one another in this way. It's simply not our place to determine whether or not someone is saved. Not only that, we're also not very good at it. For example, let's say that you had two neighbors. One of them is always getting in trouble with the law. He was recently arrested and is sitting on death row. You'd probably judge that this guy is bound for hell. Now let's say the other neighbor is always at church. He leads Bible Studies, he’s on staff at the church, and he has practically memorized the Bible. You’d probably judge that this guy is bound for heaven. However, the first neighbor corresponds to the thief on the cross. He lived a life of crime and was punished for his evil actions, but at just the last moment he put his faith in Christ and Jesus welcomed him into paradise that same day. The second neighbor corresponds to the rich young ruler. He was righteous according to the people of his day, and he was wealthy (a sign of God’s favor) and he kept the law. Yet when Jesus offers him a place on his executive leadership staff, the man walks away and stops short of surrendering his life to Christ. In each case, if you and I were the ones judging these two men we would have been dead wrong.

Only God is equipped to judge the eternal destiny of men and women, not us. We are commanded not to judge others and put them into a box labeled righteous or evil because we do not know the heart of man. We can barely know our own heart, much less the heart of someone else.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." He also told them this parable: "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. (Luke 6:37-40)

I can already hear the partisan response to my article brewing as I write this. "But how can this President call himself a Christian if he believes in a woman's right to choose abortion?" Or perhaps, "This President is a liar, a murderer, and war monger who has no compassion for minorities or the poor. How can he call himself a follower of Christ?" But if we allow ourselves to judge one person's salvation based on how much they agree with our politics, we're still placing ourselves in the seat of the One True Judge of all mankind, and this is not our place.

At bare minimum, we should be able to give our brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt and believe the best of them before we outright dismiss their statement of faith. Especially if our only basis for doing so is that they disagree with us on politics.

"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Luke 6:41-42)

When we judge others we forget that we are also sinners saved by Grace who fail often, miss the mark daily and are in constant need of mercy and forgiveness from both God Almighty, and our friends and family.

Everyone you meet in life is decidedly "in process". We are not yet the people we hope to be, and we are no longer the people we once were. This fact should help us to find grace for each other as we go through this life together.

Our main calling is to become experts at loving one another, and loving those who need it most. If someone disagrees with you on a major issue, and if that person identifies themselves as your brother or sister in Christ, then your duty is to pray for them and to love them, not to doubt their eternal salvation or their faith in our Lord Jesus.


*Note: Quote A was from George W. Bush and Quote B was Barack Obama.

Monday, December 13, 2010


If the Gospel is just about saying a prayer so that you can go to heaven when you die, then what's the point or purpose of discipleship?

The New Testament defines a disciple as someone who is with Jesus learning how to be more like him.

If you take the attitude that the Gospel is only about going to heaven when you die, then following Jesus in your everyday life becomes an optional, extra credit activity. But this isn't the Gospel. And for Jesus the idea of discipleship isn't an "extra credit" assignment, it's the only assignment.

Jesus only ever talked about the Kingdom of God. It was, in fact, the Gospel (Good News) of the Kingdom that he came to preach. The Good News of the Kingdom was that it was here and now and that you and I could enter it today.

The Kingdom of God is simply the reality that we experience when Jesus is our actual King. When He is the King or Lord of our life, then we are living in the Kingdom and He is our King.

The Sermon on the Mount is what life in the Kingdom of God looks like. He gives us a snapshot of what it might be like for Jesus to be our King and for us to submit our lives to His rule and reign.

One thing we notice right off the bat is that the reality that Jesus begins describing doesn't resemble anything close to the world you and I live in right now. Otherwise we might expect them to read, "Blessed are the rich for they will be comfortable. Blessed are the famous for they will be loved by millions. Blessed are the employed for they shall not need to worry about how to pay their bills, etc."

This is the reality we live in and were born into. All of us. But Jesus describes something that appears upside down to us. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us about a Kingdom where the poor are blessed. The meek inherit the Earth. The losers of this world become the winners in the Kingdom. Those who cry now will be filled with joy in the Kingom.

Here's a little nugget to keep in mind: The Kingdom of God is right side up. The Kingdom is God's reality. It's our world that is upside down and Jesus is coming to set things right.

What blesses us is not the condition we find ourselve in (meekness, mourning, poor in spirit, etc.) but the King Himself. We are blessed in spite of our low condition, not because of it. We are loved by the King and He welcomes everyone into His Kingdom, starting with those most of us overlook and avoid.

God loves to work through the least among us. He's always looking over the head of the tallest to see the shortest. He's always on the lookout for ways to include the people who are on the outside looking in.

This is why He chose Gideon, who was the least of his family, who was the least among his tribe, which was the least tribe of all the other tribes. It's why God chose David as King, even when his own father made a point to leave him out in the field with the sheep. It's why Jesus made it a priority to visit a well at noon to talk to a woman who was an outcast even among the Samaritans. It's why right now He's looking at you and welcoming you to enter into His Kingdom and follow Him.

You matter to God. You are not an outcast to Him. You are blessed. You are loved. You are significant. You're worth dieing for, and He's worth living for.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Sometimes God hits you with something profound when you least expect it. For instance, the other day our marketing department spent 3 hours in a mandatory Creative Collaboration session. Right off the bat everyone was handed one of these name tags and asked to write one thing we’re really good at. Some people wrote “Making Cookies” or “Herding Cats” or “Keeping Things in Perspective” but I sat there holding my sharpie marker with a blank name tag. What am I really good at? I wondered.

In these situations you can’t help but wonder what will happen based on what you write on one of these tags. If I write “Singing” then what if she asks me to sing something for everyone? I didn’t want to write something boring like “Blogging” because it’s no big deal to be good at that. Plus, it’s pretty close to what I already do in my job as a writer anyway. The goal was to find something you’re really good at outside of work that most people wouldn’t know about necessarily.

I turned to the person next to me and said, “I don’t know what to write.” He said, “You’re a good writer.” Yeah, I said, but that’s what I do here. Someone next to him said, “You’re a good blogger.” That sucks, I said. Another person said, “You save people” because he knows I used to be a pastor. I’ve never saved anyone in my life, I said. Then another person said, “You enable people.” I’m an enabler? That sounds pretty negative. Then someone said, “You’re really good at helping people.” So, I wrote that down and put the label on my shirt. That’s when God really started to deal with me.

“This is who you are,” He said. “I made you to help people.” Immediately I remembered Robert Higgins. My heart started to break again and I nearly started to cry in the middle of this workshop.

The more I thought about this, the more it continued to bless me. Not only had God spoken to me in this silly exercise, but he did it through four of my co-workers. In fact, He could only have done it through the four of them because on my own I honestly didn’t know what to write. They were able to tell me that I was really good at helping people when I was immersed in my own self doubt. “Am I really good at anything?” I wondered. And God nudged these four co-workers to say, “You’re really good at helping people.” And then I wrote that on a sticker and this defined me for the rest of the day.

As the day progressed, I got to watch this woman Dyana Valentine, facilitate our motley group of creative professionals through a process of collaborative thinking. This woman quit her job and started her own business so she could spend her time standing in front of a group of people and help them to think through creative problem solving techniques. As I listened to her talk and watched her draw the solutions out of us, I knew what I wanted to do when I grow up. I want to do what she does. One day I am going to start my own business. I am going to find a way to get in front of groups of people and I am going to help them learn how to work together and collaborate and find solutions creatively.

I’ve always loved teaching and facilitating groups of people. There’s something in me that’s been part of my identity since I was a very young boy that comes alive when I’m in front of people. It’s why I used to do impressions of famous people at age 9. It’s why I starred in school plays in elementary school. It’s why I started a rock band in college. It’s why I love to preach and teach in Church settings. I love being in front of people. I love interacting with people. I love helping them to learn and to grow and to see things they couldn’t see before.

All of this happened in one three hour workshop. None of it was what I ever expected. But now I know two very important things: What I want to be when I grow up, and what I’m really good at.

What is it that you are really good at? If I handed you one of these name tags, what would you write? Do you know what you're made for? Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Knowing this and doing this are two of the most important things you can ever experience in your life.

I can't wait to help people and to find ways to show people things they've never seen before.


Friday, December 03, 2010


"I've given like a beggar but lived like the rich
And crafted myself a more comfortable cross,
Yet what I am called to is deeper than this,
It's time You had my whole life;
You can have it all." – Matt Redman (The Way of the Cross)

Someone once said, "When we consider our love for others we measure how much we give. When God measures, He considers how much we hold on to."

As the Christmas season approaches I can't help but feel excitement at all I can give to those in need around me. I have been blessed beyond measure. I am rich in all the things that matter and my family has everything we need to survive (and a whole lot extra we don’t need, too).

When we consider how much we have been blessed (and if we live in America we are among the richest people living on the planet today), it’s easy to let go of what we own and share it with those who have little.

I don't care how poor you think you are, I can probably show you someone who is much worse off than you are living right down the street from you. And joy comes from giving to others, helping people in need, and bringing a smile to someone else's face. Joy is never about what you give to yourself, or even what someone gives to you. That might make you feel thankful, or happy for a moment, but real Joy is something deeper and lasting. It is always about what you give away to others. Making a noticeable difference in another person's life and knowing that something you did, or something you gave away meant something to another human being is what fuels real joy.

For the last few years now our family has been moving away from buying gifts for one another and focusing instead on bringing joy to others around us. So, we take the money we would normally spend on gifts for each other and we buy gifts for children at the motel where we've been serving for over 8 years now. Or we take the time to go caroling at a local senior home and bring joy to people who are desperately lonely and empty. Or we find ways to creatively bless people on our street, or to see the person on the fringes who most people ignore and buy them a meal, or engage them in a friendly conversation.

What changed my mind about Christmas was when we partnered with a few others to bring a Christmas blessing to a woman and her son who were desperately poor a few years ago. She had just recovered from brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Her son had asked if they could have a Christmas tree because they had never had a tree or gifts to put under it before. After we set up the tree and laid all the gifts under it and hung up the stockings which were jam-packed with blessings, we sat down to pray over her. When we were done she looked up and said, "Can I pray for you?" That's the moment when my heart broke forever. As this dear, humble sister in Christ lifted up our family in prayer I silently wept. Huge, wet, hot tears dropped into my hands as she called us each by name and gave thanks to God for these blessings.

On my way out to our car to go home I told my family, "That was my Christmas gift. I don't want or need anything else but that." And I decided right there and then that from now on I only wanted my Christmas to be about doing all that I could to bless others.

Really, it's a very selfish decision on my part. I get so much out of this. It's not really fair because no matter how much I try to bless others, I always come away with a bigger blessing than I brought with me.

Listen to what Paul the Apostle said about serving and giving to others:

"Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:32-35)

So, what will you give away this Christmas? I promise you, the more you give away, the more joy you'll receive in return.

I dare you to test me on this one.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Thanks to the selfless efforts of Tommy Ab, my book "The Gospel:For Here or To Go?" is now available on PDF and in print for anyone who speaks French.

The book is now available at my bookstore link

FRENCH TITLE: "L'Evangile:Pour ici ou pour emporter?"
$12.99 Print
1.99 PDF Download

As before, the book features a forward written by Neil Cole, author of "Organic Church" and the cover artwork of Scott Laumann ( whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, and at fine art galleries in Los Angeles and beyond.

I am a very blessed man.