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2020

Christians Are Right

pg. 2

A Letter to the Dying pg. 4

Coffee, & Other Horrible Sins pg. 8

Strength From the Struggle pg. 10

KeyLife.org


by Steve Brown

The modern world says that it is impossible for a thinking person to have a metanarrative—an interpretation that accounts for all reality.

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There are smaller narratives within cultures and subcultures that are helpful and necessary for normal living. But a metanarrative—given the disagreements, the many ways of viewing reality, and the variety of heritages, backgrounds, races, and belief systems—is simply impossible. Further, it is arrogant and offensive to even suggest that there is one metanarrative. At the risk of sounding arrogant and offensive, let me say here that there is, in fact, a true metanarrative. It is called the Christian faith. It is a stable, clear, and profound metanarrative. Or to put it simply: Christians are right. America and much of the world has gone through a massive cultural shift over the past thirty years. That shift is called postmodern, post-Christian, or perhaps transcultural. Whatever the name, the old and traditional views of anthropology, sexuality, social norms, religion, and culture have been set

aside for the new views of tolerance, acceptance, and freedom. Most thoughtful Christians I know are concerned about the cultural shift and feel, as it were, as if believers are standing by a cliff, telling people to be careful. Those folks to whom Christians express their concern are tolerant, albeit dismissive. Believers stand by the cliff, giving their message, “Look at the blood down there. Don’t get so close to the cliff! It will kill you.” But folks keep jumping. In the seventeenth century, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition and found guilty of heresy because of his teaching that the earth was not the center of the universe and, in fact, it moved around the sun. He was forced to recant his views (he needed the job and valued his life), but it is said that as he walked away from his trial, he muttered, “But it still moves.” Christians are in that place now. Against an entire cultural shift that dismisses Christian


verities as nonsense at best and outright lies at worst, Christians are still muttering, “Doesn’t matter. It’s still true. Truth isn’t determined by a vote.” The cultural change is a tragedy of epic proportions if one believes (as I do) that the Christian faith is true—that it is not only true but the best thing to happen to human beings; that the Christian faith is about the unbelievably good news of God’s love and forgiveness; that life is not meaningless or hopeless; that this is a way to live a reasonably full and joyful life; that people can live forever.

This is not about Christians being right and everybody else being wrong. It is about believing the right truth in the right way. The most dangerous thing about the Christian faith, for those who believe it, is the danger of being right. In fact, if believers do not learn to live and to speak right when we get it right, know when not to wave the red flag of our rightness in front of the unbelieving bull, and learn to manifest not only the truth of Jesus but his love and compassion, it will kill us and everything we love.

Taken from Steve’s new book, Talk the Walk. The Christian faith is true, and while we may be right on issues of salvation and theology, we may miss the less articulated truths of humility, love, and forgiveness… • Take a step back and look at others' perceptions. • Explore the tools necessary to accomplish an attitude change of confidence and humility, repentance and truth. • Share the message of Christ without distorting it. • Speak confidently without being cold. By operating out of humble gratitude for the gospel, begin to talk the walk of Christian faith, reflecting the love and truth of Jesus, the one who first loved us. "Steve is a wise and gentle pastor and he’ll help you (as he has me) feel the pinch of truth while he pours in the gentle love of the Christ who knows you. Get this book. Your unbelieving friends will thank you.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick

“I’ve always appreciated Steve’s ability to hold close to his convictions while simultaneously avoiding the need to police others’ behavior. In our highly divided times, we need voices like Steve’s…” -Matt Johnson

Order Talk the Walk by Steve Brown at KeyLife.org/store

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“Steve Brown’s brilliant new book is a life-giving, irenic call to speak truth with the playful, kind ferocity of Jesus. Reading this book felt like taking a warm shower to rinse off the vitriol of ugly truthtellers and cleanse me of my own self-righteousness. This is a desperately needed book for a bitter and angry age.” —Dan B. Allender

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“It is never easy work to crawl out of one’s skin, and the last moulting is the hardest of all.” ~Clara D. Pierson, Among the Night People

by Jenni Young

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I understand that you have reached your last lap, and I can’t get you off my mind. Perhaps I am the most unlikely person to write this. I’m not on my last lap (at least not so far as I know, and I think the knowing makes all the difference). You are on holy ground that I cannot begin to fathom. I don’t know what it’s like to know that Death will be collecting me soon. I haven’t experienced the humiliations you live with daily. I am not in pain. I don’t feel wrung dry by the expectations of all the people I love or the sad

and hard fact that they will soon be making memories without me. I am not in shock over a battle that I have to fight but know I cannot win, and I certainly don’t know the awful loneliness that comes with knowing that I don’t get to take anyone else into the arena with me. I don’t know the nagging fears you may have about time or faith or regrets. I want so badly, however, to tell you the one thing I do know: The last lap matters. --My dad has given me many gifts.


When I was a little girl, he used to brush my teeth every night. (I didn’t have a cavity until middle school, and by then, I was brushing my own teeth.) Also when I was a little girl, he showed me how to do the edge pieces first in a puzzle. He taught me to pray. He instilled in me a love for Scripture. He modeled hospitality. He made up songs

I want so badly, however, to tell you the one thing I do know: The last lap matters.

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for my friends when I was young and drove me long distances to their weddings when I was grown. He used the fancy attorney letters after his name to my benefit, he told me he was proud of my mothering, and he apologized when he made mistakes. My life has been heavily marked by good gifts he has given me. Then around two years ago, he gave me the most peculiar gift of all: he died well. When I asked him how he thought his surgery would go, he didn’t even hesitate. He replied with confidence, “A wise person once told me that when you are at a crossroads and you don’t know which way to go, you should look for God’s goodness in both directions. Tomorrow I am going to get healing here or streets of gold.” I heard him tell my mom regarding the medical decisions she had to make, “I think we always fight for life,” but I also heard him tell her the same day, “You know what I keep praying? ‘Into Thy hands I commit my spirit.’”

His lips were cracked and his tongue and face swollen, but when I sang “Jesus What a Friend for Sinners,” he joined in at the chorus. (Incidentally, when I sing that song now, I remember that day and hear his voice, but it is not a voice encumbered by a swollen tongue and cracked lips; I hear the rich, bold voice I have known since childhood.) His tombstone was engraved (at his request) with these words from Isaiah: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” --So I’ve been thinking about you because I’ve been thinking about him, and because of him, I want you to know that your last lap matters. I used to think, if given a choice, I’d wish for a quick, easy, painless death – the kind you have not been given. I have changed my mind about quick and easy deaths because I learned the power of a death done well when my dad died: The kind of power that reminds vulnerable daughters that Heaven is a manifestation of God’s goodness, The kind of power that connects a worthy fight with a humble heart, The kind of power that transforms slurred, lisped singing into the bold music of angels, The kind of power that takes humiliations, pains, expectations, and fears to the Giver of all good things and receives perfect peace in return. You see, as it turns out, you are not alone in that arena after all. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.” ~Isaiah 26:3

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Resources

to help get you, and those you love, Home with radical freedom, infectious joy, and surprising faithfulness

Young Madeline and Roark are desperately running from the shadow that destroyed their home and is threatening their lives. One day, they encounter Tatus, an older man who has sworn to avenge the death of his family at the hands of the shadow, and they form an alliance with him. Tatus promises that he can keep them safe from the shadow if they will help him build a fortress. So they build. But as fortress-building consumes their lives, Madeline and Roark are increasingly filled with anger and fear, and an unseen evil threatens to ultimately destroy them… We've all had the feeling that something's not quite right with our lives. It's bigger than any specific failure or disappointment. It's bigger than any person. No matter what you achieve or how much you drink or sleep, you can't shake it. It haunts you–night and day–and propels you to do something. So you build. You build and build the maze that is your exhausting life. Sound vaguely familiar? A journey into the personal labyrinths we create to protect ourselves and those we love from the pain of living in a broken world. A "true myth" of the grand narrative of God's redemptive work in the world. This page-turning Christian fantasy tale is packed with mystery and drama, and you'll feel the weight and power of redemption as you journey alongside the characters in their epic battle. The Seed deftly communicates the heart of Trinitarian theology through story–without using theological language or Christian terms–and reinforces biblical themes such as God's character and man's true identity and calling. A Steve Brown classic… You have put your faith in Jesus Christ. Now what? As Steve says, "The new birth is only the beginning of the process that will alter your whole life." Teaching for living the Christian life... For the unbeliever, a clear presentation of the Gospel. For the newborn believer, solid instruction and guidance to growing up in Christ. For the mature believer, a back to the basics. How one becomes a Christian. The work of the Holy Spirit. The practices of Bible reading, prayer and church. How to deal with sin, to know God's will, and to witness. The struggle with assurance...it's all here. So, welcome to the family. 11-CD audio series If you don't know what it means to be a "real man," there are approximately 2,341 books out there. But many of them will leave you burdened with a masculine to-do list, resigned to passivity in the face of impossible expectations, or convinced that your manhood has been indelibly marked by an absentee father. So how do you figure out who you are and who you are meant to be? Knowing God's fatherly love changes everything for a man. Like Father, Like Son is an invitation to men to recover and reclaim an intimate, growing relationship with their heavenly Father and live out of that biblical, core identity in their particular calling as sons, fathers, brothers, and friends. A man who is forgiven and accepted by his heavenly Father is free to become like him. God's grace alone turns them into real men.

To order, use the attached envelope, call 1-800-KEYLIFE, write to steve@keylife.org, or order online at KeyLife.org/store


Coffee, & Other Horrible Sins by Chad West Did you know that coffee was almost a sin?

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In the 16th century, the clergy called coffee satanic and asked Pope Clement VIII to ban it. Clement tasted it, decided he liked it, and decided not to ban it. I can almost guarantee you that if coffee hadn’t been to that cat’s liking, it would’ve gone down in religious culture as something we just 'know' is sinful. There’d be books, podcasts, and thousands of think-pieces on how we know the culture is so lost because they shop at that horrible Starbucks (we’d call it something ‘clever’ like Sinbucks). Because that’s one way superficial sins like that become a thing. It’s funny how the little decisions we make about right and wrong can affect generations to come. (Think about those poor Christians who wouldn’t have a place to sit, drink a hot beverage, and write their articles on the evils of yoga pants had Clement thought coffee was disgusting.) Thankfully, Romans 14 gives us instruction on how to handle it when we disagree on things that

aren’t vital to the faith. It’s some really great advice that we often misuse (or ignore completely). Romans 14:1-4: “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” There’s a difference in saying that your conscience will, or will not, allow you to do a thing, and saying that your conscience is the same as God’s word. Our preferences are just that. Ours alone. That runs the gamut from political candidates, to food, to music preferences. It can be most anything. But our obsession with correcting others isn't some new thing. It’s said that Moody once confronted Spurgeon, pointing at his cigar and saying it


wasn’t honoring to God. Spurgeon responded by poking Moody in his rather round belly and saying that wasn’t honoring to God either. We gotta stop.

Our personalized Christianity becomes the only one we can imagine another person having, and that’s not cool.

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It’s hard to keep our preferences to ourselves. I get that. Some things are so personal and our reasons so spiritual to us that we get the idea that others are sinning if they don’t do what we do. That’s why Paul’s advice is so important. He’s giving us a way to deal with our need to correct, or feel better than, others. It may not be the answer we want, or the one that’s expedient to our circumstances, but it’s what God told him to say. We lack respect for one another to a humongous degree in the church because we think our preferences are God’s preferences. Our personalized Christianity becomes the only one we can imagine another person having, and that’s not cool. We’ve got to respect the weaker brother and the weaker brother has to respect the strong. Why? Because we’re family, our preferences aren't the only way, and, also, God said so. Unless someone is going around telling others that they’ve got to do something aside from accept God’s free gift of Salvation to belong to God, we mostly need to chill. It’s not our job to make everyone else like us. Yet, we seem to believe

our primary job as Christians is to correct other people. That’s silly. We’re not policemen, we’re brothers and sisters. So assigning ourselves the duty of correcting every non-essential thing is both a waste of time and disruptive to the community of believers we should be. Doctrine should be kept pure, but whether someone wears jeans to church or votes Democrat should be something we shrug at and move on. (And the fact that last sentence worked some of you up so much proves my point. …Oh, the comments I’ll receive!) Love is how Jesus said the world will know we belonged to him. A supernatural, otherworldly love that overlooks the things that the world deems important. A love that transcends race, creed, sex, religion or political party. We’re so bad at that. I’m writing this because I’m so bad at it, too, and I do my best thinking on paper, so I’m hoping I’ll say something inspiring to myself here, too. I want so badly for us to fall in love with each other. And that doesn’t begin with the other guy. It’s on my shoulders, and I want to take that responsibility very seriously. I want to love you, crazy opinions and all. I want to care about your soul whether you agree with me or not on any given subject. I want to love the jerks and the selfish and the rude and the disingenuous because Jesus loves me and I’m sometimes made up of those nasty adjectives too. I’m so not there, but God knows I want it (well, sometimes). And that’s all I’ve got to give. But, with Jesus, it’s enough.

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Strength from the Struggle by Traylor Lovvorn

OK…I’ll admit it. I’m a pack-rat.

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Well ”pack-rat” might be a bit strong. I like to think of myself as one of those “oh-look-this-is-coolI’ll-put-it-right-here-cuz-you-neverknow-when-that-might-come-inhandy” kind of guys. Or I could just be in denial. Melody leans toward the latter. This morning I discovered one of my more peculiar collections that I had stashed away a few years ago after a weekend at the farm…a Ziploc bag full of spent butterfly cocoons! Now how cool is that? You never know when one of those might come in handy, right? My wife actually had the gall to have put them in a bag that was headed for the trash. Oh the nerve! I did have a good reason for having put them in that sandwich bag for safekeeping. Finding those

cocoons at the farm was very special because just the week before I had read something about butterflies that I had never known before. Turns out that if you happen upon a butterfly that is at the end of its personal metamorphosis and decide that you want to play nice and help it escape its silky confines, and you take your handy-dandy pocket knife and cut a teeny-tiny slit in the cocoon, you have just guaranteed that that particular butterfly will never fly at all. That’s right, for butterflies, the struggle to get out of the cocoon is what gives them the strength to fly. This little tid-bit of info had blown me away. As I was reflecting on all of the implications of this in my personal life, I happened to find five empty cocoons over the


course of the weekend at the farm. I had never found a cocoon before and have never found a cocoon since. It was obvious that there was a lesson here that Father wanted me to learn. As I stared at each of the holes left by the escaping butterflies, I thought about how

Too often I complain about the struggle rather than try to find God in the middle of it. tempting it would be to want to help the butterflies escape if you happened upon one breaking out. And then I thought about struggles in my own life and how I fight to avoid them at all costs. Could it be that the struggle is just what I need and it might be an example of God loving me well by allowing me to go through it? Maybe our life here on earth is nothing more than one big struggle with our flesh and one glorious day we will break free from the confines of our humanity and we will fly! How many times have I run to the rescue of someone else who was going through a struggle? Maybe, in some instances, I was actually

doing them more harm than good because the struggle that they were going through was the very thing that would have given them the strength to fly. I have not gotten there yet, but finding the cocoons this morning was a fresh reminder that my prayer needs to be to struggle successfully and not avoid struggles at all costs. Too often I complain about the struggle rather than try to find God in the middle of it. Father, help me praise you in every storm. I am ready to fly. What struggles have you avoided in the past that actually wound up providing you with much needed strength?


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Key Life Magazine - Spring 2020  

With articles from Steve Brown, Jenni Young, Chad West and Traylor Lovvorn to get you home with freedom, joy and surprising faithfulness.

Key Life Magazine - Spring 2020  

With articles from Steve Brown, Jenni Young, Chad West and Traylor Lovvorn to get you home with freedom, joy and surprising faithfulness.