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Monthly March 2011
What’s Significant About Turning 40?

I’m turning 40 this year. Seems pretty huge. The Psalmist reminds us that our lifespan is between 70 and 80 years, depending on our strength (Ps. 90:10).

Just this morning my wife informed me that a relative of hers passed away from cancer. His prognosis was only known in the last two months. Life is short! But rather than expounding on the brevity of life I’d rather probe this idea of significance while we are alive. What does it mean to achieve true significance during our short time on the planet?

A few days ago my children told me about a YouTube flick that has gone viral. Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video is quickly approaching 70 million hits and has now been rated as the worst song ever. Intrigued, I watched an ABC newscast that detailed the hatred and cyber bullying against Miss Black. I wondered why. Perhaps it has to do with a distorted view of significance.

Are people upset with Rebecca merely over the fact that her voice isn’t that great? Or are they rather upset that they haven’t achieved similar popularity? Given the current cultural obsession with reality shows and “American Idol” I further pondered the depth of current human pursuits. People are clamoring for significance. We hear stories of ordinary people—in some cases with mediocre talent—achieving phenomenal popularity. But is significance merely a sum of our talents or good looks?

In the ABC interview, Rebecca stated that it would “make her life” if Justin Bieber would sing a duet with her. After all, she is now a pop star. For Rebecca, hanging out with famous people and being popular is achieving significance. And ditto for many others. But is that really achieving true significance?

I personally believe that significance is not found in serving ourselves but in serving others. It’s found in what we give away—how we leave this world a better place because we were here.

Several months ago I heard Scott Harrison’s story. It both captivated and motivated me. Changed from self-serving to missional; Scott is now raising millions of dollars to bring the water of life to a billion people on the planet who don’t have access to safe, clean, drinking water. Consider the fact that 4500 children die each day from diseases caused by a lack of safe drinking water and proper sanitation. Or that 2.2 million die each year from illnesses caused by drinking contaminated water. That’s the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each day!

So here’s what I’m doing. I’m donating my 40th birthday to Charity Water. I’m also being audacious and setting a goal of $40,000. In the next three months I’m hoping to get 1000 people crazy enough over my 40th birthday that they’ll each donate $40! Or 2000 people each giving $20! Will you join the campaign? We can impact the lives of thousands…we can make a difference together…we can achieve significance! Click here and donate $40 or $20 to Charity Water on behalf of my 40th birthday. I dare you to be significant!

Getting Ticked Without Sinning

A little over a week ago my wife and I were returning from our 15th anniversary getaway. While enduring a rather lengthy layover in Chicago’s O’Hare, we were startled to see a man get kicked off his flight. After a United agent had checked his boarding pass, this young man had thrown a rather rude comment over his shoulder while entering the jet bridge. Apparently he had had enough that day with flight delays, re-routes, gate changes, etc. That brief retort did him in, however; a manager rushed onto the plane and forced him off. Cursing and yelling, this angry traveler demanded his rights and berated the gate agents while his flight continued to board without him. He finally stomped off down the concourse in a fit of rage.

I’m sure most people present thought he was a complete loser. But I couldn’t help putting myself in his shoes and feeling his pain. He had been pushed to the edge, and had snapped. Has that ever happened to you?

I vividly remember when I once lost it. It also happened right before I boarded a flight. I was still single, traveling in China with a group of guys. Struggling with culture shock and fear of getting apprehended by the authorities, I came unglued when a security agent asked me to open my bag. I pretended I hadn’t heard, put my head down, and forged ahead toward my gate. Of course I didn’t get far. They held the plane for me that day though. And after investigating my bags they let me board without further trouble.

I remember my embarrassment; my overwhelming sense of guilt for having left such a terrible testimony. I also did a lot of repenting that evening—before the sun set.

Ephesians 4:26-27 gives us some directives on handling anger. “In your anger do not sin,” Paul says. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

First, note that the Greek word for anger here is actually a command. Anger is an emotion that must be felt—not suppressed or denied. We’re ordered to be angry. In fact, anger is a negative emotion one keenly feels when perceiving that an act of injustice has occurred.

So not all anger is bad. It’s evidence, you might say, that we’ve been made in God’s image. Something within us cries out for the world to be made right.

Next, Paul points out; do not sin in your anger. “Go ahead—be mad,” he writes, “but when you’re ticked off, remember that sinning is off limits!”

Our problem is not anger; rather, it’s the sinful ways we tend to respond to it. Expressing anger in immature, selfish, and hurtful ways is always sin. If we don’t properly deal with our anger it can destroy both us and others. Buried anger eventually leads a person into pits of depression. Concealed anger eventually leaks out and poisons relationships, much like toxic waste that seeps into the water table.

Last of all, deal with your anger quickly—before the sun sets! The longer you wait the harder it is to resolve an issue. Going to bed angry makes your anger behave like cement; it hardens during the night. Holding on to anger also builds a wall of resentment between relationships. One person wisely said, “Do not erect a shrine to your anger in your heart. If you do, the devil will appoint himself its priest.”

So how do you deal with your anger? Do you tend to own it and get over it or do you tend to excuse it or suppress it? Be brave, leave a comment. Share your strategies for overcoming anger; your coping mechanisms.

My Definition of Holiness

Our family has been horror stricken by the video footage over the last few days in the wake of Japan’s recent tragedy; office workers escaping a crumbling building, a massive wave of water driven by some unseen force boiling over the countryside destroying everything in its path, vehicles tossed around like toothpicks, and fires raging out of control.

In a world of instant news coverage, these powerful images have the potential to numb and terrorize. Some folks simply turn it all off, grateful they’re alive in their part of the world. For them, ignorance is bliss. The safety zone beckons; maintaining one’s culture apart from outside interference is easier and certainly lessens any guilt one might feel for not getting involved. It’s also less messy. Not unlike some Christians with a mistaken belief about holiness.

I was recently asked by a Youth Committee to submit my perspective on holiness. It’s been an interesting endeavor. I’ve reflected on various “environments of holiness” I’ve either been subjected to or have observed. Many were well intentioned but also quite limited. The religious tradition I grew up in, for example, focused largely on outward appearance. There was a self-directed righteousness that dealt primarily with externals instead of an internal passion for God and His purposes in a broken world. Holiness was something I did to make sure God wouldn’t send me to hell. I focused on maintaining at least a minimum standard of holiness in order to insure that God would give me heaven in return for my personal piety.

But holiness is multifaceted, definitive of God and His people, and certainly much broader in its scope of practical application. In the Hebrew context it connoted dedication or devotion to a particular purpose. Anything that comes between us and God (“idolatry”) is unholy since it robs us of our wholehearted devotion to God. In the Greek context, “separation” is emphasized with connection to the idea of “God-likeness”.

It’s with concern for this latter definition that I would like to focus my attention. In the beginning, God created us in His image. This means that we were designed to create, and in a sense—to be like God. This shouldn’t be confused however with the satanic obsession many have had throughout the ages of attempting to be God (Lucifer’s original sin from which all other sins have flowed). Rather, we were made for God to inhabit us—Christ’s righteousness to envelope us—so that we might be sanctified for every good and creative work in restoring a broken planet. When sin, corruption, and destruction become the earth’s norm, our holiness counteracts to fulfill God’s restorative purposes for His ultimate glory.

God’s intention was for a world of harmonious relationships; God with man, man with man, and man with creation. Because of the redemptive work of Christ, we become “little Christs” (Christians) to recreate a world where humanity once again can “walk with God in the garden,” as Adam and Eve once did. This is true holiness.

If one has been redeemed, he or she has a passion to create, to bring redemption into his or her sphere of influence. On the other hand, if one has simply prayed the prayer, is indulging in idolatry (serving self, pleasure, and anything other than God), and is currently waiting around for heaven to show up; he or she has only acquired “fire insurance” and has not yet been made holy. One could even question whether or not that person will be ultimately saved considering the Apostle Paul’s words, “to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). Remember that in the same breath, Paul reminded us that we must work it out since God is working in and through us “to fulfill His good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).

Over 1500 years ago a certain Simeon Stylites believed that he could live a holier life by living separate from the people of the world. This monastic, according to some accounts, lived atop a pole for 37 years!

While living separate from the world, Simeon failed to realize that holiness is not just about avoiding sins of commission. It’s also about sins of omission. By escaping the world he failed to be God/Christ-like, bringing healing to a broken world.

By simply turning off the news, shutting off the world, or escaping into a community of safety and tranquility, one is not becoming more holy. One must engage with the world. One must become a “little Christ” in a world of tragedy and pain.

So don’t turn off the news. Pray for the brokenness around you. Get out there and get your hands dirty. Get involved. Join us in embracing holiness this week by responding to an Asia Harvest news brief on the plight of earthquake/tsunami-stricken Japan. Click here for more details.

Discovering Your Gift

At age seventeen I flew out to Alberta, Canada to visit my brother who was teaching in a small parochial school on the prairie. Escaping the classroom, Tim went skiing with me in the Rockies and introduced me to his hockey-playing friends. I dodged moguls at Lake Louise, floated through powder at Castle Mountain, and played hockey against a team consisting mostly of RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers. It was an unforgettable week!

Two years later I headed west again. I was destined for more phenomenal skiing and fast hockey plus some school teaching on the side. I thought I had my gifts figured out—something to do with sports and the great outdoors. But during that first year I played very few games and hardly hit the slopes. My first year in the classroom turned into a second and a third. I was discovering my areas of greatest strength by trying something new. In fact, teaching and speaking became a passion. Had you interviewed me prior to moving west, however, you would have heard something entirely different. I would have told you that concrete construction or something connected with agriculture was on my horizon.

Last week I talked about maximizing your gift. But what if you haven’t discovered it? What if you don’t know what your strengths are and are only painfully aware of your weaknesses? Can you in fact discover your gifts and begin moving toward your strengths zone? Where does the journey begin?

Author Marcus Buckingham has produced some great resources on discovering one’s strengths. I’ve used his Trombone Player Wanted video series to help others discover their gifts and start putting them to work. One of my hottest selling resources at leadership seminars and youth conferences has been his book, The Truth About You.

Buckingham believes that many people have bought into three myths—two which are: (1) As you grow your personality changes, and (2) You grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness. But the truth is that, (1) As you grow, you become more of who you already are, and (2) You grow the most in your areas of greatest strength.

Consider your daughter coming home from school with an A in English Literature and an F in Calculus. What do you typically focus on? Do you help her conquer her Calculus or stoke her passion for English Literature? Most likely you focus on areas of greatest weakness and thus work on the Calculus. Now while it’s true that you ought to assist her in attaining a passing grade, far more time should be invested in your daughter’s love of English Literature. Her greatest potential lies in this sphere; she may in fact become a great poet, author, or journalist.

So how do we discover our strengths? Buckingham suggests several things to get us started. First, can you think of any activities that you excel at? Second, is there any work activity you’re involved in that recently went from good to great? Third, when your team is in a crunch and needs a great performance, what is the “play” that everyone knows only you can run? Or, what do others think you’re really good at doing? Fourth, are there any activities that make you feel strong, powerful, and fulfilled? Fifth, can you think of any activities that you especially look forward to; meaningful activities that someone might hire you for? And last of all, as with many hobbies, are there work activities you enjoy so much that you almost forget time when doing them?

If most of your answers were negative it may be time for you to try something new. Experiment. Risk. Be bold and adventuresome. Perhaps God has something big out there waiting for you to discover that will bring Him the greatest glory and you the most joy.

For the present, here’s a good place to start. Track your activities for a week. Whenever you do something that intrigues you, holds your interest, or perhaps even makes you feel magnificent, write it down and ask yourself some questions. Why did I enjoy it? Can I deliberately do this more often? Can I take this activity from its current level of performance to something much higher? In other words, are there some skills I need to develop in order to sharpen this strength? And lastly, is there someone I need to talk to about allowing me to work more in my area of greatest strength?

 

At age seventeen I flew out to Alberta, Canada to visit my brother who was teaching in a small parochial school on the prairie. Escaping the classroom, Tim went skiing with me in the Rockies and introduced me to his hockey-playing friends. I dodged moguls at Lake Louise, floated through powder at Castle Mountain, and played hockey against a team consisting mostly of RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officers. It was an unforgettable week!
 
Two years later I headed west again. I was destined for more phenomenal skiing and fast hockey plus some school teaching on the side. I thought I had my gifts figured out—something to do with sports and the great outdoors. But during that first year I played very few games and hardly hit the slopes. My first year in the classroom turned into a second and a third. I was discovering my areas of greatest strength by trying something new. In fact, teaching and speaking became a passion. Had you interviewed me prior to moving west, however, you would have heard something entirely different. I would have told you that concrete construction or something connected with agriculture was on my horizon.

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

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2014 - 2017

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.