my blog my blog

Category: Interpretation
Mega & Meta Narratives

One of my favorite classes this semester is Biblical Narrative with Dr. Joe Dongell. Brand new at ATS, this course looks at Scripture as a whole, proposing an underlying mega-narrative supported by a number of meta-narratives. (If that was somewhat “Greek” to you it also was for me until yesterday.) In an after-class discussion, Dr. Dongell presented what he believes to be the overarching story (“mega-narrative”) in the Bible followed by various themes (“meta-narratives”) that are present throughout.

For an introduction to mega-narrative we turn to Genesis, the book of beginnings or the place our story starts. Genesis can be broken down into basically two eras: the first recorded in chapters 1-11, and the second in chapter 12 to the end of the book.

In the first era we see God breathing life and hence order into the chaos followed by sin and death reversing the process. The progression is startling: a preference for something other than God (3:6) leads to murder (4:8), then to out-of-control revenge (4:24) and then eventually to unsustainable violence (6:5, 11). The antithesis of life is highlighted in the first recorded genealogy (5:3-31) in the phrase, “and then he died.” It’s a resounding endbeat for each life except Enoch. The first era ends with God “cleaning house” (the flood) and re-ordering the chaos followed by a genealogy that depicts a “diminishing life trend”; life spans descend from 500 down to 119 (11:11-25).

In the second era we see God establishing a people who will be blessed and be a blessing to all the peoples of the world. Just to be clear, this term “bless” and its derivatives should not be confused with that which we ask over a meal, a “good-day” to passersby, or our response when someone sneezes. Defined as “breathing life” into another, we see God infusing Abraham with life so that he can bestow it on others. Lot is successful when he is with Abraham; the redundant mention of their separation (13:11) draws attention to Lot’s downward spiral that follows when he is not connected to the one whose purpose was to breathe life into others.

God’s desire to impart life to those who bear His image constitutes the mega-narrative. God gifts humanity with an environment teeming with life and beauty, and in the middle of it all, a tree that will sustain life forever.

This glimpse of eternal life, however, is quickly snuffed out when an enemy misguides human choice toward sin (preference for anything other than God) which ultimately leads to death. The plot thickens throughout Scripture; the mega-narrative reveals a God Who is continually injecting life into His special creation while Satan undermines and destroys. God’s injunction to be fruitful and multiply (1:28, 9:1) is constantly thwarted by the satanic threads of violence and murder. Multiple stories of family dysfunction (Isaac/Esau vs. Rebekah/Jacob, Judah & Tamar, Joseph vs. his brothers) during the second era in Genesis are further evidence of Satan’s attempt to stop the Abrahamic lineage of blessing. We might also note that Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel all suffer from barrenness. Satan wants to stop a lineage that will ultimately produce a Mediator who will re-introduce eternal life.

The meta-narratives of Scripture are other themes we are quite familiar with: Sacrificial atonement, Kingdom, Covenant, and Redemption to name a few. These themes and threads throughout Scripture all tie into the mega-narrative–God’s passion for imparting life to fallen humanity.

The Bible is God’s story of eternal life for you and me. It’s His story (his-tory) that you and I are invited and privileged to join!



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.

What’s Our Basis for Unity?

While recently listening to an audio version of Matthew 17, I was somewhat puzzled by one statement. Descending the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus instructs his inner circle to not tell anyone about the event until after His resurrection. Why?

Representatives of the law and the prophets—Moses and Elijah—appeared to Jesus at this time. Peter thought it was a good idea to erect temples for all three of them. Was he implying that the law and the prophets were equally important alongside Jesus’ “Kingdom of heaven” message? A voice quickly breaks through the clouds and God makes it quite clear that Jesus is greater than the law or the prophets. Everyone should listen only to Him.

Before His resurrection Jesus was living in an Old Testament era. He lived by Jewish rules and regulations set down by the law and the prophets even while introducing a new Kingdom paradigm. This Kingdom involved both new wine (truth perspectives) and new wineskins (systems). Yet it wasn’t until after Jesus conquered death that He had completely fulfilled the law and His disciples were able to begin a new movement we now call the Church.

The Church has always struggled however, with what to do with the Old Testament; it’s been a constant source of disunity. A church council meeting in Acts 15 decides to drop circumcision yet requires early believers to abstain from food sacrificed to idols and bloody meat. In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, a curse is placed on those who returned to the law after walking the road of grace paved with saving faith in Christ alone.

Today I observe that many Christians still disunite over issues of law rather than uniting on the fundamentals of our Christian faith. Instead of using the Apostle’s Creed as a foundational starting point, the practical approach is to first observe how similar one is in culture and practice. If there is alignment in “the details” people feel comfortable in working and worshiping together.

After living in Southeast Asia for over ten years I personally believe there are various ways to apply God-given truth and principles. Take diversity in culture for example. Most people would agree that much of it is generally neither good nor bad, just different. In fact, much of it is a matter of preference. Everyone believes in satisfying their hunger. Some do so with rice and beans while others with steak and potatoes. Most people also believe in wearing clothes; some put on robes and turbans while others attire in jeans and t-shirts.

This makes me ask some questions: Are some of our practical applications (doctrines and laws) simply based on preferences (or our interpretative lenses) and not necessarily in contradiction to others’ applications of the same principles? Do we sometimes incorrectly assume that someone is disobedient to God’s Word when in reality they are living out the same principle with another form of application?

In terms of God’s Word, which parts of the law and the prophets should we obey today? Some would say everything but certain aspects of the ceremonial law. If so, do we follow to the letter of the law all aspects of the civil and moral laws set forth in the Old Testament? If so, how is this determined?

Should you plant more than one type of seeds in your garden (Deuteronomy 22:9)? Should you wear clothes made with two types of material (Deuteronomy 22:11)? If your brother dies should you marry his wife (Deuteronomy 25:5)? Should you abstain from medium-rare steaks off the grill (Leviticus 19:26)? And what about tattoos—should you forbid them and condemn anyone who wears one (Leviticus 19:28)?

I could list many more Old Testament laws and no doubt receive a vast number of opinions in response. Take the last one I mentioned—currently a controversial issue for many. I personally dislike tattoos. But on what basis can I judge someone who wears one?

We’re living in the post-resurrection church era. Jesus foresaw our struggle to get along with each other and prayed about it passionately. Especially noteworthy are His prayers for unity in John 17; it’s mentioned four times!

A wise German Lutheran theologian by the name of Rupertus Meldenius once said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” So let me ask you: Is the Apostle’s Creed enough for you to unite with other believers—God’s children whom you will spend eternity with? Can you pray, worship, and work alongside another person who holds to the fundamentals of your faith? Why or why not?

“Sacrifice Your Son on Top of a Mountain”
Posing with my son Jamin (age 7) at the summit of the first "Fourteener" he climbed in CO in 2009.

What if your friend told you he’d heard a voice lately instructing him to do exactly that—take a hike up a distant mountain and sacrifice his son there as a burnt offering. And furthermore, he’s pretty sure it was God’s voice. Would you think, “I’ve got to get this guy committed to the psycho ward…he’s either believing a really bad joke or is a fringe lunatic.”

Or what if one of your good friends told you that God had told him to hang out in the red light district of a local city and marry the first hooker that propositioned him? Would you tell him he’s a sick man taking a one-way ticket down a road clearly paved with marital wreckage and well-deserved character defamation?

Or would famous Father Abraham or holy-man Prophet Hosea both come to mind. These men both heard from the God of the universe tell them to do exactly what I’ve described above (Genesis 22:2, Hosea 1:2; 3:1-3). And both real-life stories from the Word beg the question: does God still ask His followers to do seemingly crazy things that go completely against conventional wisdom?

Just yesterday morning I read in Mark 3:21 that Jesus’ own family thought He was “out of his mind.” They tried to shut him down or at least bring him under their control. Have you ever been accused of being out of your mind when pursuing a God-inspired dream or following the course God has laid out for you? Does heroic faith often look absurd to those obsessed with commonsense and only aspire to a “good call” in retrospect?

Stories of other Biblical heroes further rock our airtight arguments for rigid applications of truth and principles. A faithful woman named Ruth uncovered a guy’s feet in the middle of the night (Ruth 3:7)—was she setting a good example to those wondering about how to ask out a date? Isaiah walked around naked and barefoot for three years to make a graphic point (Isaiah 20:2-3)—shouldn’t someone like that be arrested for indecent exposure? And then there’s Jesus. Rather than going along with a broken religious system, He rebuked its leaders in fits of anger (John 2:15-17) and preferred to hang out with outsiders—men and women of ill repute (Luke 5:29-32; 7:37-39). Always at the center of controversy, Jesus often caused disunity (Matthew 10:34) and exhorted His followers to choose Him above their parents and religious authorities (Luke 14:26-33). And finally, the Apostle Paul—a former promoter of Jewish orthodoxy and absolute adherence to its system—is a Spirit-inspired troublemaker who today might be known as one who is constantly “church-hopping” (Acts 16:40; 18:1-23), judging Christian leaders (Galatians 2:11-14), and instigating violent protests (Acts 17:1-9).

Consider further these last two characters. Would Jesus pass the “Not even a hint of immorality” test with all the people He hung out with? And honestly, would you let a preacher speak in your church who like Paul had mystical experiences (2 Corinthians 12:1-4) and whose handkerchiefs were used to heal the sick (Acts 19:11-12)?

I’ve just finished reading Fixing Abraham by Chris Tiegreen that has me re-thinking my typical approach of forming conclusive opinions on the purposes or nature of God. I’m also wondering about our tendency to judge those who don’t follow conventional Christian pathways or use orthodox methods while pursuing what they understand to be God’s will for their lives. Is our general approach to Biblical understanding too sterilized; or in Tiegreen’s words—“Is it possible we’ve created a safe, tidy Christian culture that too often holds back from embracing the complete truth of God’s character—and those of His people?”

What do you think? What part of the Biblical narrative is jarring your neatly packaged theology?

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.


725 Newgate Ln Apt C, Prospect Heights, IL 60070


(+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.


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. I can provide advertising media for all events including online registration if needed.



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 cables. I can also supply an Apple TV for systems that require wireless projection from the front. 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 a mic cord (to plug into my direct box) or 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. Standard telescoping music stands are ideal.

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.


I do not charge a set fee when speaking at non-profit events. However, donations are welcome to support my family and cover bills. The suggested donation amount is $500/day for each day I’m on the trip plus travel expenses. If I’m within a few hours of an event I will drive (suggested reimbursement of $250), otherwise, I typically fly (if within the USA, $500). I fly out of Chicago, IL and typically purchase my own tickets; a reimbursement check made out to “Luke Kuepfer” can be mailed to 725 Newgate Lane, Apartment C, Prospect Heights, IL 60070.


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 Amy from Northern Indiana and lived in that area for a 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 Theological Seminary in 2014 and began to travel both domestically and internationally to develop leaders. In 2019, with all three of our children in college and our eldest married, Amy and I moved to Prospect Heights, IL. Amy works for Prayercast and I continue to develop leaders in both the business and non-profit arenas.

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.


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



Years Lived Abroad
Countries Visited
14-ers Climbed in CO
Places Lived
2014 - 2020


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

2011- 2013


Masters Degree in Christian Leadership.

2009 - 2010


Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies.

1997 - 2008


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


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

1990 - 1993


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