Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Out With The Old. In With The New.

Which has more relevance for you:The 10 Commandments or The Sermon On The Mount?

Which one trumps the other: Moses or Jesus?

Does the question confuse you? Maybe so. “Aren’t they both equal in weight and value?” you might ask.

But think of it this way: Should we allow the Old Testament scriptures to inform our understanding of the New? Or is it the other way around?

American Christians have been lulled into an Old Testament form of Christianity. We’ve started to gravitate to a more Moses-centric form of Christianity rather than a purely Jesus-form.

If we’re followers of Christ, for example, why wouldn’t we want the words of Jesus on our buildings in public places rather than the Ten Commandments?

Imagine “Blessed are the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of God” posted in your Courthouse? Or “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And…love your neighbor as yourself” displayed in our Town Squares? Wouldn’t that be more radical and “Christ-like” than a list of “Thou Shalt Not’s”?

But back to our previous question: Do we interpret the New Testament in view of the Old Testament? Or do we use the New Testament – and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles – to help us understand the Old Covenant scriptures?

According to Paul, the Gospel is a mystery to everyone who came before Jesus. In fact, he says it four different times:

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” (1 Cor. 2:6-7)

“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” (Eph. 3:4-5)

“Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith.” (Rom. 16:25-26)

“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.” (Col. 1:25-26)

The Apostle Peter says it this way:

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” (1 Peter 1:10-12)

This is why Jesus, after he had risen from the dead, had to “open (the) understanding” of the disciples so “that they might comprehend the scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)

It’s also why Paul says, “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:13-15)

In short, Jesus illuminates the Old Covenant scriptures. He alone “removes the veil” so that we can understand when the old covenant is read. The Apostles, under the power of the Holy Spirit, were empowered to reveal the true meanings and mysteries for us.

So, the teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount are more authoritative for us than the teachings of Moses. Even Moses acknowledged this in Deuteronomy 18:15, and Peter reminded everyone of this in one of his earliest messages to the people, saying:

“For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’” (Acts 3:22-23)

And Stephen also reminded everyone of this same fact in Acts 7:37 just before they stoned him to death.

So, Jesus – not Moses, not Jewish Rabbis, not the traditions of men – and His Apostles to whom He has revealed this mystery, are the ones we should be listening to.

Jesus is greater than any human prophet. He is the Son of God, and God the Son. He is Emmanuel, “God With Us” and He is the Word of God made flesh to dwell among us.

Let us remember the words of our Heavenly Father on the mount of transfiguration - after He had removed Moses and Elijah from their presence – when He said: “This is my beloved son. Listen to him!” (Matt. 17:5)

Yes. Let’s.


Monday, April 28, 2014


"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. " - Psalm 90:12

You have cancer. You are being sent to Iraq. Your time is short.

You have a moment of time to consider your life, to count your blessings, to enjoy whatever life has to offer.

Every breath is sweeter than the one before. Water tastes cleaner. Food explodes with flavor in your mouth. Each embrace of a child, or a loved one, is like an eternity of comfort.

You are blessed.

All of us will taste death. Not one of us can escape it. We can fill our waking moments with distraction, we can avoid the discussion, we can turn the page on the words, but we cannot change the fact that every heartbeat within our chest is drawing closer to the last one. Time is short.

Those of us who know this are at an advantage. Because the sound of the clock ticking only reminds us to enjoy what we have been given. We are constantly reminded to savor every breath, every smile, every second of sweet laughter, every tear, every good thing that comes our way on the breeze.

I remember attending a memorial service for a young boy, barely out of high school, who had lost his life in Iraq as a Marine.

One by one his friends stood up and shared how blessed they were to know Danny. One by one they talked of cherishing his memory every day that they are alive. Even as we gathered to remember his brief life, we were each reminded to be careful not to take our own life for granted.

Several years ago I worked for a man who had melanoma. Small networks of tumors were steadily growing larger in his brain. Yet, my friend came to work each day with a smile on his face. He encouraged each of us to follow our dreams. He reminded us to enjoy life to its fullest. He refused to lay down and die.

I can remember him coming to work until he needed to walk with a cane, but he kept coming. One day he came in with a walker, but he came anyway. A few weeks later he was in a wheelchair as he greeted us at the door, but he was at work with a smile and a word of encouragement. He was blessed. He knew his days were numbered. He was doing all he could to make his life count. He was determined not to waste a second of breath on anything less than absolute joy and the pursuit of purpose.

Over my head there is an invisible counter on its way to zero. I am oblivious to the number of days that remain. Because of this I am often lulled into wasting entire hours on pointless things. How much of my life have I spent in front of the television? How many hours have I wasted on meaningless things? How many empty moments of my life have I thrown away?

I know my life would be lived in a different way if I could see the face of that clock over my head. If I could catch a glimpse of how much time was left I would gain a much-needed perspective of how my time should be spent on things that count, on endeavors that have eternal value.

My life is a vapor. One day I will breathe my last. One day I will be lowered into the ground, laying quietly inside a dark box. My time here will be over sooner than I expect. How will I spend the remaining hours of time I have left?

Teach me, Lord, to number my days so that I may bring Glory to Your name with whatever I have left to give. Help me to make each day count for the Kingdom. Help me to encourage others. Help me to savor every breath. Help me, dear God, to never take this sweet life you've graced upon me for granted.


"What counts for eternity? Only that good which is done for the love of doing it. Only those plans in which the welfare of others is the master thought. Only those labors in which the sacrifice is greater than the reward. Only those gifts in which the giver forgets himself" - Henry Van Dyke

Live. Love. Give. Share.




Saturday, April 26, 2014

[SUBVERSIVE RADIO PODCAST] - What Is Salvation In The Kingdom Of God?

If the Gospel is not about praying a prayer so you can go to heaven when you die, but instead about a daily reality of life in the Kingdom of God, then how do we share the Gospel?

Listen as Keith answers a listener's question about how to communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom to children or to anyone who wants to know how to become a follower of Christ.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


Originally published here on 10/26/05

Relax. Everything is under control.

Your employer only has enough money to pay you one more month. Your family has to pack up everything and move out this weekend and you have no idea where you’re going to move into. Maybe you’ll have to rent a storage unit, move everything inside for a few months, and sleep on a few floors.

Everything is under control.

Of course, it’s not under MY control. I can barely see over the top of the steering wheel right now. I’m on my knees in the back seat of this car, praying that we make it to where we’re headed in one piece.

The last five months of my life have been some of the most stressful and challenging you could possibly imagine. Even more challenging than the year and a half I spent among the ranks of the unemployed, sustained only by the hand of God and the generosity of others, learning firsthand what ‘Daily Bread’ is really all about. Yes, even more stressful than the day I had almost $2,000 in bills to pay with no fulltime job, and less than one hundred dollars in the bank.

Over these last five months, my wife and I have suffered a miscarriage, gone three months with only half our normal income, endured week after week of uncertainty about where we would live and who I would work for, and now we face the countdown to homelessness.

Everything is under control.

About two years ago I began this journey. I suddenly realized that the Gospel I grew up on wasn’t really the Gospel that Jesus preached at all. It rocked my world. It turned everything upside down.

Following my little epiphany came the realization that I had spent most of my teenage and adult life following Jesus without taking up my cross.

I learned that it’s easier for us to die for Jesus than it is to live every single monotonous day for Jesus.

After this I began to dig into the idea of discipleship, or “follower-ship”, to Jesus. I began to seek first The Kingdom of God and to apprentice myself daily to Jesus as my Lord, and not just my Savior.

Just the other day it dawned on me what the last five months have been about. It’s simply the fruit of my desire to die to myself, to put Jesus first and to carry my cross (the instrument of my personal death to the flesh). Nothing more, nothing less.

So, now my life is out of my control. I have no say in where my finances come from. I have no clue where my family will live next. I have no idea where, or if, I’ll be employed in the next three months.

This is part of what I signed up for.

Of course, just because I don’t know the answers to these questions doesn’t mean that it won’t all work out for us. It just means that I’m not the one in control. God is.

The real question for me is, “Am I ok with that”? Am I ok with not being consulted when it comes to where we live, where I work, how much money we make, or even where we go to church? Because if turning my life over to Jesus is really what I’m all about, then not being the one in control of my life is a major byproduct of that decision.

I have to walk into the darkness ahead of me, leading my family along behind me, with no idea whether or not or next step will be into the abyss or into a blessing.

Everything is under control.

Monday, April 21, 2014


I was corresponding with someone this week about metaphors for ministry and for understanding our own calling.

Metaphors help us to take a step back and look at our experiences and our thoughts from a different vantage point. Sometimes this helps us to discover things that we never would have thought of before.

A few years ago I received a prophetic word from a guy at church that confirmed what I was asking God that same week (about whether or not to launch a new compassion ministry at our church), and the word was about me being a "Point Man" in our church, leading the people into new territory and being careful to lead them through the dangers and towards the place that God (our commanding officer) was sending us.

Of course, the whole idea of being a point man kinda scared the heck out of me. In real life, a point man is the guy who takes the bullet if the unit walks into an ambush. He's the guy who had better know where they're going or else everyone will get lost in the jungle and die.

I figured if God was taking this metaphor seriously then I should take it seriously too.

One Sunday the same guy gave me another word. The funny thing is, I knew he was going to have another word for me before he did. And no, this guy isn't one of those 'prophetic' kind of people who is always going around handing out words. In all the time I've known him, (2 years or more), this  word on Sunday was only the second thing he'd ever shared with me.

The word he gave me was about my family being like indigenous 'special forces' units within the community. There were a lot of little details, like how we're part of the community, specialized and equipping others in the community to join with us, and teaching them to train others, etc. It was exactly about what we're doing now by starting a missional house church here in a new community.

How can I discount this sort of thing? Such a specific word of encouragement at such a perfect time and place. Like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Spencer Burke ("Making Sense Of Church") talks about having a personal metaphor. For example, he said he felt like he was a fire starter. His calling and gifting were related to helping others get on fire for what God was calling them to do.

I think I'm like a magnifying glass. I help people to see things that they might not otherwise see and to magnify the urgency or amplify the vision that God is giving them.

Of course, I’ve learned over time that these metaphors all have a negative side as well as a positive side. For me, a magnifying glass, the negative is that sometimes burn holes in the things it is intending to magnify. The danger is in becoming more focused on the negative than on the positive.

Everyone has a specific calling, gifting or purpose within the Body of Christ. It's God's promise and His plan to build up the Church. Our part is to understand who we are specifically made to be and then to fulfill that calling.

So, class, the question for today is: "What's your metaphor?"

*Note: Originally published on the [Subversive Underground] e-newsletter.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


For several years now, our family has hosted a Good Friday Meditative/Reflective Service in our home.

We set up various stations around our home and play instrumental worship music as participants move in candlelight from station to station to reflect and meditate on the passion and sacrifice of our Lord.

Here are the stations we will observe:

Casting Lots for Christ's clothing

Tasting the vinegar and bitterness He tasted for us on the cross.

Touching the crown of thorns He wore in our place.

Driving nails into the wood to remember the price He paid to set us free.

Dipping our hands into red paint to make a collage of thanksgiving to Jesus for His amazing love.

We will also tear cloth to symbolize the veil of the temple being torn in two for us.

Afterwards we will sit together quietly in the den and each person suggest a song about the passion of our Lord spontaneously, and we all worship together accapella.

Finally, we will all hold a candle and, one by one, share what Jesus' sacrifice means to us individually, blowing out our candles as we go. We will dismiss in darkness and exit in silence.

This is always a very powerful, emotional, and spirit-filled time of meditation upon the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

If you'd like to do something in your own home, or with your own church family, I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bad News First

There is a beautiful resurgence of emphasis lately on the “Good News” of the Kingdom of God. Which, honestly, is a great thing after so many years of emphasis on escaping the fires of hell and acquiring your holy fire insurance and a lease on the heavenly mansions beyond the clouds.

But I think our newfound emphasis on the  “Good News” of the Kingdom must include a healthy dose of “Bad News” if we’re to be effective.

Here’s what I mean: The Good News of the Kingdom is that everyone has access to the abundant life of Christ right here and now. But the Bad News of the Kingdom is that the cost of admission is high.
It costs you everything.

In other words, the price for life in Christ involves death to self. Or, as C.S. Lewis phrased it:

“Nothing in you which has not died will ever be raised from the dead.”

Or, as Jesus puts it:

“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples." (Luke 14:33)

Whew. Pretty steep if you ask me.

Now, by calling this “Bad News” we’re not being fair, or totally accurate. See, the idea of surrendering everything in this life in order to follow Jesus into His Kingdom only sounds like bad news to those who have yet to take the leap. In other words, once you’ve let go of your worldly treasures you discover an astounding truth – it doesn’t compare to the splendor and majesty found within the Kingdom reality offered by Jesus. In fact, those earthly “treasures” are really pretty worthless and empty, so dumping all that crap out the window isn’t actually all that difficult.

Maybe it’s easier to explain it this way: When you let go of your worries, your fears, your doubts, and your status quo, you get to enjoy the glorious life, love, joy, hope, peace, and contentment found only in Christ, Jesus.

I guess when you put it that way, it’s really not “Bad News” at all, is it?





Monday, April 14, 2014

[Subversive Radio Podcast] The Power of the Gospel?

In response to a video clip where theologian Wayne Grudem attempts to discredit Greg Boyd's book, "The Myth of a Christian Nation", Keith illustrates the foolishness of taking the position that the Gospel is not enough to overcome evil in this world.

[Click link above to listen]



What if I were to spend most of my time seeking out the boundaries of my savior’s love? What if I were to focus my energies on plumbing the depths of the heart of Jesus? What if it were my supreme passion to know Him better today than I did the day before?

There are times when I find my heart beating faster as I begin to realize how close the Almighty creator of the Universe is to my own heart. Like swimming in the ocean and suddenly turning to realize that there is a massive whale swimming just outside your reach and you find you can barely breathe.

These realities escape us for the most part. We take such grandeur and majesty for granted, or deny it outright in the mundane sameness of our daily routine.

Think of this: The same Jesus who walked on water is alive right now within you. The same Messiah who calmed the storm with a word is listening to your heart beat this very moment. He knows your thoughts right now. He knows your pain, your fears, your doubts, and your insecurities. He longs for you to cast your cares upon him because he cares for you – yes, you.

More than this, Jesus WANTS to be found. He wants you and I to seek His face. He longs to reveal more of Himself to those who are hungry and thirsty for His presence.

You could talk to Jesus right now. He will listen. You could grow closer to Jesus – and allow him to grow closer to you – with simply a whisper of a prayer under your breath and a few minutes of silence as you drive to your next appointment.

Our imaginations are so dull. For example, we take no thrill in the fullness of the thought that we will be alive two hundred thousand years from now; just as alive – even more alive – than we are right now.

Today I am trying to remember that every breath I breathe today is taken in harmony with Christ. Every beat of my heart belongs completely to him alone.

“Lord Jesus, come live and breathe in me today. Help me to hear your voice, to see your face, and to experience your presence more and more.”


Thursday, April 10, 2014

[Subversive Radio Podcast] What About The Five Fold Ministry?

Listen as Keith explains what the Five Fold Ministry is and why he doesn't agree with most people about it.

Monday, April 07, 2014


*NOTE: Originally published on Saturday, August 30, 2008 on the [Subversive Underground]


The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the Church. We are called the Bride, the Family of God, and the Body of Christ.

We are never referred to as an organization, a weekly meeting or a business.

In God's heart, we are a living organism. We are a Body made up of interdependent parts with Christ as our head.

We are a family, adopted sons and daughters who are blessed beyond measure to call the Creator of the Universe "Papa".

We are a Bride, the fiancee of the Son of God, radiant by His Glory, madly in love with the Groom, being made ready for a wedding feast at the End of Time.

We are carriers of the Kingdom message, empowered by His Holy Spirit, called from the four corners of the Earth, on a mission of love and service and daily sacrifice.

We are sons and daughters. We are fathers and mothers. We are housewives and computer engineers. We are musicians and artists. We are mathematicians and scientists. We are poets and truck drivers and marketing executives and elementary school teachers and airline pilots.

We are the global ambassadors of God's love to a hurting and dying world.

We are the Church when we are awake and when we are asleep. We are the Church when we are driving on the freeway and when we are talking on the phone. We are the Church when we are in line at the Grocery Store or eating a cheeseburger in the food court.

We are the Church - Agents of change who have one simple command to fulfill; "Love one another".

If we could really understand this. If we could really see who we are every minute of every day, there is nothing that could stand in our way, not even the very gates of Hell.

Can we defend the cause of the orphan and the widow? Can we speak up for the abused and the enslaved? Can we share what we have been given with those in our own community who have nothing? Can we lay aside our petty differences and learn to forgive and love and befriend those who are right in front of us?

Can we learn to love others as Jesus loved? Can we give the way He gave? Can we lay down our lives, our wants, our needs, our comfort, for the good of someone else?

All of Heaven holds it breath in anticipation, awaiting the outcome of this drama of life we find ourselves in.

The Kingdom is in motion. Your assistance is required.

Don't miss your chance to shine.


Thursday, April 03, 2014



Tony and I used to have a dog named Sugar—a faithful and loyal companion, though of dubious parentage and limited intelligence. We live in a house with a fenced yard and an electric gate across the driveway. Sugar used to hide, lying in wait until a car went through the gate. Then, just as the gate was closing the final few inches, she would make her bid for freedom. She would return several hours later, exhausted but very happy.

We live near a busy road and eventually decided to put a stop to her adventures. We installed an invisible fence (which works by giving the dog a small jolt of electricity if it approaches too close) across the driveway. After a couple of, shall we say, shocking experiences, Sugar learned to stay within the confines of our yard. In fact, long after the battery in her collar had died, Sugar would sit, wistfully gazing at the liberty that lay on the other side of an open gate without making any attempt to escape. She had become conditioned to her limitations.

As women, we too, have become conditioned to live within boundaries. Even within the simple/organic/house church movement, where there are no boundaries for what a woman can do, women still rarely take the initiative. There’s an inbuilt misconception that we have to wait for a man to step up to the plate.

But imagine what might happen if women really understood that they are free to make disciples, baptize, start churches, teach…. They can function as apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. What might happen if men and women partnered together for the harvest?

The Black Swan Effect, a book I recently compiled, presents a vision for what can happen as men and women work together in the Kingdom of God.  The authors (both male and female) encourage men to champion women as equal co-laborers and partners in the harvest. They give women permission and inspiration to follow the Lord—to reach their own full potential and encourage others to fulfill God’s call. The Black Swan Effect equips both men and women to bring an informed and positive contribution to the increasingly crucial conversation on gender in the church.

This book was written for men as well as women.  Fourteen different authors contribute to these themes in The Black Swan Effect, each of them writing from their own area of passion and expertise, the whole being woven together into a single narrative. Encouraging stories of women who are doing marvelous things for God today accompany each chapter.

If you are like most Christians, one of three primary motivations might propel you into a discussion about women in ministry:
§  Many Christians have come to the conclusion that there is no better way to increase the size of God’s missions workforce than to fully deploy women to use their spiritual gifts and God-given capacities.
§  Some are asking theological questions. They are investigating how the Bible portrays women, especially women leaders. How did Jesus treat women? Were the New Testament writers—in particular, the apostle Paul—misogynists? Are there alternative interpretations for some of the really difficult passages of Scripture? 
§  Others are drawn to this discussion because of issues related to justice and human dignity around the world as well as in the church. As they study Scripture, they are assured that God cre­ates all men and women in his image, and they can’t even imagine a God who would discriminate against women.

What might happen if men and women worked together, side by side, for the Kingdom? 
Does our traditional view of the Scriptures concerning women overlook something powerful? 
Could the role of women be crucial to the church’s future? 
Are we on the edge of a new era in missions history? 
Change is coming. Get ready!