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Category: Book Review
Creation: Framework Theory

Click on the image above to view my first video blog on the Framework theory of Creation.

The Story of God, the Story of Us

It’s been a busy week at seminary culminating in a 13-hour intensive class on Friday and Saturday. For this week’s post I’ve decided to submit a book review I’ve done on Sean Gladding’s book, The Story of God, the Story of Us: Getting Lost and Found in the Bible (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2010). This was a fascinating read retelling the Biblical story with a fresh approach; here is my take on it.

As our world transitions from modernity to postmodernity, the telling of stories holds greater meaning. Sean Gladding’s The Story of God, the Story of Us, retells the Biblical narrative in such a way that readers are both engaged personally and invited to join a story bigger than their own. We’re compelled to rediscover an overarching story in the ancient text that is not only a glimpse of the past but also embraces our story in the present. It’s a story about our Creator Who loves His creation and passionately desires to connect us with His greater purposes, that if faithfully embraced, bring glory to His Name and ultimate meaning to our lives.

First, Gladding gives us a glimpse of God’s self-revelation throughout Scripture. He shows us a God that is full of goodness and grace Who delights in His creation to the point of making a binding Covenant that will cause Him great sacrifice. Mirrored in that is God’s desire for us who are made in His image; to fulfill His great mission of blessing all nations, first commissioned to the Jews in the Abrahamic Covenant and later modeled in Jesus Christ. Gladding writes, “God’s people exist for the sake of the world, not for our own sake” (87). Just as God receives glory through blessing all humanity so are we a blessed people called to be blessing to all nations.

Second, Gladding desires his readership to strip their reading of the biblical narrative of the assumptions and prejudices commonly brought to it. We tend to read ourselves into the center of the story and make it more about us than about God’s Kingdom. Gladding points out that God not only needed to get Israel out of Egypt but “Egypt”–an earthly kingdom paradigm–out of the Israelites. While God designed for them a tabernacle–a mobile worship center that would serve missional purposes as they moved among the nations–they preferred a stationary temple that centered on the first part of the Abrahamic covenant and prevented the latter. They wanted a king to be like other nations; God wanted them to be a nation set apart with their identity wrapped up in His covenant relationship with them.

Third, Gladding paints a comprehensive picture of God’s story rather than the short snapshots we tend to see when we only study portions of scripture. He shows us that there is a grand story threaded throughout all the stories; and parallel portraits from the Old and New Testaments that tie it altogether. God’s story begins in a garden where humanity breaks relationship with Him and ends in a garden where all is restored. The cherubim that guard the garden of Eden after the fall of humanity reappear at the mercy seat in the tabernacle and then again at the garden tomb after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus is foreshadowed in Isaac (“God will provide a lamb–‘My Son’”), Moses, Joshua, and King David. The Law of Moses received on a mountain is later fulfilled when Jesus delivers His Sermon on the Mount–a declaration of His “magnum opus” in fulfillment of the law. The Bible is cohesive; each author, book, chapter, verse, and line plays a role in telling The Story of God, the Story of Us.

Sean Gladding does well in retelling the Story, not as the metanarrative of Scripture, but rather as his understanding of it which continues to deepen over time (237). Given the length, depth, and breadth of the metanarrative, he is forced to choose what parts to highlight and bring to the fore what he deems is critical in supporting the overarching theme.

Gladding uses the terms “vocation, permission, and prohibition” to explain God’s purpose and plan in The Story of God, the Story of Us. Vocation has everything to do with Covenant; humanity is invited to partner with God in caring for creation and continuing to create by having children. Permission deals with the free will of humanity and the choices we make to enjoy the blessings of God. Prohibition distinguishes God from humanity based on the former’s command to the latter to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Gladding points out that, “prohibition is only meaningful within the context of freedom; only when we can say ‘no’ is our ‘yes’ meaningful” (29). Since all three of these gifts help form the context for the Story of God, the Story of Us, it may have been helpful to refer to them more often throughout the story.

I was impressed with Gladding’s ability to weave a nonviolence thread into the narrative by his use of the characters who told the story; in one case, a gentle little girl was juxtaposed with a revengeful harpist. At another point, the narrator of story rebuked the crowd for their hatred of the oppressor by simply stating, “Then you still have not heard the Story, my friend” (148). In another context, Gladding strongly declares that anyone who seeks to enter the Kingdom, “must refuse to bow to any other gods–including any empire, nation or state that demands our allegiance and which use economic and military power to further its own interests at the expense of others” (226-227). In doing this, Gladding made the Story relevant for today by exposing the nationalism and pro-militarism prevalent among many Christians.

This book complements my current ministry with Unveiling Glory. As a speaker for their Cat and Dog Theology seminar, I’ve been introduced to the story of God’s glory throughout the Bible based on the Abrahamic Covenant. In the third lecture we unpack the Bible as having an introduction, a main story line, and conclusion showing the cohesive nature of God’s Story built around His desire to bless us and make us a blessing to all the peoples of the world. This book confirms my life theme of “blessed to be a blessing” and impresses on me the importance of remembering the simple theme of a Covenant God welcoming all people into His grand Story.

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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Countries Visited
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14-ers Climbed in CO
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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.