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Monthly February 2011
Maximizing Your Gift

I remember winning the privilege of standing before my whole school to recite a speech. I had spent hours and hours writing it, then rewriting it, and finally memorizing it. After presenting it to my class, I was chosen along with several others to present it to the entire student body.

I well remember my apprehension leading up to that event. I was frightened by the thought of staring into a sea of faces while quoting from memory my carefully prepared speech. What if I forgot a line? What if everything crumbled from that point onward? What if I made a complete fool of myself?

I did okay. I survived. I think some even enjoyed it. But my discomfort leading up to that moment and throughout those five minutes on stage was not quickly forgotten.

Thinking back on all the stress I experienced in connection to that speech makes me wonder why I ever continued on in that sphere. Why am I a public speaker today? What motivated me to press on? Why do I absolutely love what I do now but feared so much back then? What ultimately prompted me to work on a God-given gift I didn’t know I even had until years later?

It wasn’t until the end of my teen years that I began to flow in this capacity again. I was given a special oratory part for a choir program. I started teaching school and coaching my students in how to give effective speeches. I preached at the local church I attended. I got involved in prison ministry and spoke to inmates from the platform. All this happened before I had discerned a life career.

Did I just wake up one day and decide to be a public speaker? Did my awareness of God utilizing this gift within me come into sharp focus in a moment?

No, not at all. In fact, just the opposite. I more or less grew into it. My fear of audiences slowly faded.  My speaking style morphed over time into what it is today. Oh, I still get nervous sometimes before getting on stage. I still quake a little at the fear of failure. And I certainly still have a great amount to work on in developing my speaking skills and presentations. But I’m moving upward and onward. I read books on communication. I both listen to and watch great communicators on DVD. I also constantly seek feedback on my presentations.

I think I’ve discovered my gift. God orchestrated various events throughout my childhood and adolescence to bring me to this point. I clearly know that this is the talent he has called me to utilize for His glory. He requires that I not bury it, that I not waste it.

I was reminded of all this while reading Erwin McManus’ insights into the parable of the talents (Luke 19:11-27) just this week: “God sees not only who we are, but who we can become. When we neglect our God-given capacity, when we refuse to maximize our God-given potential, it is wickedness in the sight of God.”

Did you catch that? The guy who buried his gift is called a “wicked servant”! Sometimes sins of omission are just as great as sins of commission.

Every one of us has potential. Every one of us has a God-given talent that He wants to maximize for His glory. And to not utilize it or develop it to its full capacity is wicked.

So what is your gift? Have you discovered it? If so, what are you doing with it? Are you going to do everything in your power to maximize it for God’s glory?

Radical Christianity

Our neighbors across the road moved out yesterday. We didn’t get the chance to say good-bye. Not that we had ever really said hello. Our daughters knew each other of course and yes, we waved at each other from time to time. But that was about it. Oh, we were planning to get to know them better—eventually. But that never happened, and now they’re gone. I wonder what they thought of us? Were we simply the “friendly-from-a-distance” neighbors? The folks across the road who keep to themselves? How about “radical Christians” typical of those found in the book of Acts? Probably not.

This week I’ve been repeatedly processing the theme of radical Christianity. First was a webcast I watched in which Gabe Lyons and Tim Keller discussed “Next Christians.” While introducing the webcast Gabe referenced a letter that will be the main feature of this blog post—the “Epistle to Diognetus” written in the 2nd century that describes Christianity in amazingly powerful terms. Next was a short clip from a sermon Francis Chan recently shared at a Catalyst Leadership Conference on thinking Biblically. He asks us to ponder the question: “Who is really weird?” Last was a short radio interview conducted with Francis’ wife Lisa on hospitality that my wife and I just listened to yesterday. She talks about downsizing to a 1000 square foot home and re-thinking what is necessary for hospitality.

Here’s the letter from the 2nd century by an unknown author to a certain Diognetus:

“The Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, no lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usage of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct. They dwell in their own native lands, but as strangers.

“They take part in all things, as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign. They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have the table in common, but not wives. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives.

“They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and are made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are calumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell.

“In short, what the soul is in the body, the Christians are in the world. The soul is diffused through all the members of the body, and the Christians are spread through the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body; so the Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, invisible, keeps watch in the visible body; so also the Christians are seen to live in the world, but their piety is invisible. The flesh hates and wars against the soul, suffering no wrong from it, but because it resists fleshly pleasures; and the world hates the Christians with no reason, but that they resist its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh and members, by which it is hated; so the Christians love their haters. The soul is inclosed in the body, but holds the body together; so the Christians are detained in the world as in a prison; but they contain the world. Immortal, the soul dwells in the mortal body; so the Christians dwell in the corruptible, but look for incorruption in heaven. The soul is the better for restriction in food and drink; and the Christians increase, though daily punished. This lot God has assigned to the Christians in the world; and it cannot be taken from them.”

Powerful isn’t it? Perhaps one of the best descriptions about what it means to be salt and light in the world. They were in the world but not of it. They engaged their culture yet were counter-cultural.

So how about you and I? What are our neighbors saying about us? Or not saying about us? Are we radical Christians making a difference in our communities?

A Man Named Ivan

Last weekend I ran into a guy named Ivan and heard his story. He works with a ministry called Steeple to People. Their purpose is to bring the Church to People by utilizing the skills, talents, and resources of Christians to meet the needs in their community. Their statement of faith includes a declaration to cooperate and not to compete. Since my meeting with Ivan was brief, most of what I learned about his story came from others.

An elderly gentleman, Ivan is known by most folks in town including the senior citizens, teenagers, police, town council members…and well, just about everyone. For the last twenty plus years Ivan has been investing in his local community. If someone has a problem, they call Ivan. He fixes their things, helps with basic needs, oversees funerals, settles estates, and generally cares for whoever he meets. He also shares his testimony everywhere he goes.

Ivan serves under a group of people from the local community. This board has representation from various denominations including the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Mennonite churches in town. They all collaborate on one thing—serving their community. They all believe that only by working together can they make a difference in their neighborhood. Presently a youth center, a thrift store, and refuge house exist in this town as a result of their united vision.

It all started over 25-30 years ago when the local Presbyterian Church started Steeple to People Ministries. It wasn’t long before Ivan was involved and his farm became the epicenter for local mission. It was just the right environment for vacation Bible school and kids’ clubs. In fact, when recruiters hit the streets to mobilize children for events all they had to do was mention Ivan and his farm. No more questions were asked; Ivan’s reputation had preceded him, and anything connected to him had everyone’s support.

Ivan’s story intrigued me so I decided to call him for more information. “We don’t even think about denominations,” Ivan told me on the phone this afternoon. “All that matters is that we are born again.” He went on to tell me about a Bible study he and his wife lead at a local senior citizen apartment complex every Tuesday night. A Catholic lady has been attending those for the last 6-8 years.

Ivan is a Conservative Mennonite man. He still holds to his convictions. But Ivan has concluded that much of his Christian faith is the same as other local Christians. He understands that majoring on the minor issues that divide so many believers flies in the face of what Christ had in mind. He also realizes the impact he can have on his broken community when he aligns himself with what God is already doing through the local body.

So here’s my question for you: What will it take for your church to reach your community? Where can you join God where He is already at work around you? Can you unite on the essentials of your faith with other Christ-followers and dare to overlook the 5-10% of controversial non-essentials that tend to divide so many? The Kingdom is at stake.

Unity in Diversity

This past month I’ve been reminded again of the diversity and beauty of the body of Christ. A roomful of guys from different backgrounds sharing their dreams about reaching a broken world. A group of students at LSU attempting to decipher their role in the Kingdom. A couple with three children—two adopted from China and one biological—who have taken a foreign exchange student into their home and are open to moving overseas to make God famous among the unreached. All seeking the heart of God, all pursuing His higher purposes for their lives. Though not like me, all are Christ-followers with whom I experienced a oneness and joy.

I’ve taught numerous times on the issue of God’s greatest glory being reached when He unites all the diversity on the planet under the one umbrella of Jesus Christ. I’ve seen my vision of God expand each time I worship Him with people from differing perspectives and cultures. I’ve also been enriched in my Christian walk by learning from people of varying colors and Christian backgrounds.

Unity is good, pleasant, and refreshing, David points out in his 133rd Psalm. It is there that “the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore” (vs. 3). Unity is also a major theme in the New Testament. Jesus prays for it three times in His classic prayer found in John 17. Paul mentions it over and over again. Yet we still don’t seem to really get it. As one of my friends recently commented, “It is unfortunate that we take time out of our busy schedule fighting the devil to fight each other.”

To keep things in perspective, John Trapp reminds us that, “Unity without verity [truth] is no better than conspiracy. In fact, many folks excuse themselves from the pursuit of unity for this very reason. And while that may be noble in certain situations, I believe that most of the time many Christians are misguided by their unperceived arrogance. Their feelings of superiority based on their belief that they have greater insights and revelation than other believers makes them prime candidates for opposition. Not opposition from the enemy however. The Apostle James makes it very clear that “God resists the proud” (4:6).

I have no doubt that true unity cannot occur apart from a commitment to truth. Yet why do we tend to fight over the 10 percent or less of nuance and application rather than unite on the 90+ percent of essentials we all agree on? The old ecumenism put little emphasis on truth…a new ecumenism must move forward on the essentials of the Gospel. It must grow in the context of relationship as we mutually influence each other to become more like Christ. In other words, what’s strong or beneficial in someone else’s faith tradition becomes a learning point for us, and what’s useful and valuable in our faith tradition becomes a learning point for them.

Frederick Coutts once said that, “Few things make a mockery of Christianity more than disunity among believers.” The present day fragmentation of the church must end. Not necessarily an end to all denominations and groupings, but rather an end to the isolation, turf wars and posturing these barriers have created.

Jesus saw unity in terms of missional impact. “By this will all men know that you are My disciples,” He stated, “by your love for one another.” What are you currently doing to fulfill His vision for unity in the body?

Contact MeContact Me

Let's Connect

I’d love to connect with you via email or phone. Snail mail can be sent to the address listed below.

Address

333 East Margaret Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390

Phone

(+1) 269.625.3400

Booking InfoBooking Info

Logistics and Details

Select me as your speaker, and I will give you my best effort. See me as a catalyst or facilitator that will help you achieve the goals you’ve set for your event. When you win, I win. It’s as simple as that. I’m here to serve you in life’s journey!

Venue

A venue for the event should be chosen with the target audience in mind. All-day or half-day workshops are ideally hosted in rooms where food can be served and participants can gather around tables for group dialogue and breakout sessions (click on links for preferred room setup: round/long tables). All venues should be suited for multi-media presentations and wired for sound.

Once a date and presentation topic have been confirmed for an event, the venue name and address along with a contact phone number should be submitted for advertisement purposes. These will be posted in my speaking schedule and used in advertising media.

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Equipment

A room featuring a multi-media projector with 3000 lumens or greater is preferred for all events. I will use my own projector when one is not available. Please note that for most presentations and workshops I need my laptop at the front of the venue from where I’ll be speaking. My system can accommodate VGA/HDMI/DVI cables. Most of my presentations are designed for widescreen (16:9).

For audio I prefer a lapel or Countryman microphone. For presentation/video audio I can supply my own speaker for groups under 100 people. For larger groups I need an audio cable (3.5mm mini stereo) that plugs directly into my laptop.

Replace lecterns and pulpits with a small table or stand on which to place a laptop.

For workshops, have a flip chart or white board available with markers in several colors.

An eight-foot table should be available on which to place books, CDs, DVDs, and other resources for sale. Cash, checks, and credit cards are all accepted.

Fees

I do not charge a set fee when speaking at non-profit events. However, donations are welcome to support my family, cover bills, and feed my Puggle. Suggested donation amount is $500/day plus travel expenses. If I’m within 8 hours of an event I will drive (suggested reimbursement of $250), otherwise I typically fly (if within the USA, $500). I fly out of Lexington, KY and typically purchase my own tickets; a reimbursement check can be mailed to 333 East Margaret Drive, Wilmore, KY 40390.

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I’d be delighted to come to your event and speak. I typically keep my events within a 1-3 day time period due to commitments to my family; anything over this length of time is generally reserved for international travel. Workshops can be facilitated as whole-day or half-day events. My multi-part series can be easily held over a weekend, beginning Friday night and ending Sunday morning or beginning Sunday morning and ending Monday evening.

About MeAbout Me

Speaker, author, and life coach.

Born in Ontario, Canada, I moved to El Salvador at age 4 to live as a missionary kid for three years. At age nineteen I moved to Alberta, Canada where I taught school for three years. After leading several short term teams to Asia focused on unreached people groups, I married my sweetheart Amy and lived in Northern Indiana for Familya year and a half. In 1997, we moved with our infant daughter Brittany to Thailand where I served as director of Global Tribes Outreach. During our ten-year stint in Southeast Asia, God blessed us with two more children—Courtney and Jamin. In 2008 we moved back to North America and bought our first house in Kentucky, USA. I acquired a Masters in Christian Leadership from Asbury Seminary in 2014 and now travel both domestically and internationally to develop leaders.

As a leadership developer and life coach I help non-profit and business leaders understand how to maximize their God-given potential to lead and serve others. I am the author of A Serving Leader’s Devotional and the President of the Reverb Network.

I’ve spoken broadly on personal & global mission, leadership, team building, and numerous Biblical subjects over the last 20 years on four continents and numerous states and provinces in the USA and Canada.

I am committed to a Biblical worldview and dedicated to motivating the church toward missional thinking and practice in all areas of life. I believe that everyone has a God-given purpose to love and serve others like Jesus. I firmly believe that having our thinking challenged is not enough; it must be translated into change.

MY STORY

I have heard from other staff members who agree with me, this was one of the best/productive workshops we've attended.

Dan Domer
Staff Member, Covenant Church, Winterville, NC

Your talk rocked my world.  

Qian Wang
Perspectives Student, College Station, TX

Luke Kuepfer’s high-energy presentation of the material was delightful, articulate, and profound! If you are looking for a fresh and life-changing look at Jesus’ servant leadership model, look no further! Give Luke a call!

Don Showalter
President, Hearts Alive!

Luke is a dynamic speaker with the gift of clearly articulating Biblical truths in an easy-to-understand manner. He speaks in humility but with authority, and injects his message with the experience and global perspective gained from living abroad as a missionary for many years.

Santosh David Poonen
Elder, River of Life Christian Fellowship, Loveland, CO

Luke’s enthusiasm and passion for the local church and its impact in the community is inspiring. I highly recommend his teaching and ministry!  

Clarence Miller
Deacon, Sharon Mennonite Church

“Transformational” is the one word I would use to describe the seminar. Luke has a true gift in communicating God’s truths with clarity and passion.

Joe Bacher
Pastor, Foothills Fellowship Westminster, SC

Luke is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, presenting the interactive material creatively. It is a unique presentation unlike the usual “leadership seminars” taught from the front. Luke presents it with expertise, fun, and interest in each attendee.

David Livingstone
Regional Manager, North-East & Mid-Atlantic Region, The JESUS Film Project

Luke really has an incredible way of captivating everyone’s attention and making a seminar meaningful. He speaks from his heart and lives what he preaches. As a result of this Encounter we’re taking our family to Southeast Asia on a two-month mission trip with the possibility of moving there long-term.

Lloyd & Mary Ellen Esh
Pastor, New Covenant Mennonite Fellowship New Holland, PA

REVIEWS

SKILLS

Years Lived Abroad
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2014 - 2016

SPEAKER, COACH, & LEADERSHIP DEVELOPER

Presentations and workshops in both non-profit and business venues around the world on leadership, people skills, and life purpose.

2011- 2013

STUDENT @ ASBURY THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Masters Degree in Christian Leadership.

2009 - 2010

STUDENT @ THOMAS EDISON STATE COLLEGE

Bachelor’s Degree online in Liberal Studies.

1997 - 2008

DIRECTOR @ GLOBAL TRIBES OUTREACH

Founded and served as Field Director of Global Tribes Outreach (GTO), a non-profit organization based in Southeast Asia committed to church planting and social work.

1994 - 1996

WORKER IN CONSTRUCTION AND AGRICULTURE

Floor finishing in concrete construction and equipment operator on a cash crop farm.

1990 - 1993

TEACHER @ PRAIRIE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

Taught elementary through high school students in a self-directed learning environment.