Freedom in Christ

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If we are followers of Jesus we are to be sharing the Good News with others. But how do we go about it? Relax and be yourself = free in Christ! Keith Peeler shares with us his story and lifestyle strategy for sharing Christ with others.

Recorded live at After Hours Ribs & Brew in Belgrade, Montana. Thank you, Keith!

Automated Transcript

I just moved here from Dallas, Texas. So this is a little bit different for me than the city of Dallas, Texas. getting settled in and married to my wife, Megan for now, coming up on 13 years, well, just past 13 years. She had a daughter before we were married name hope. And we got married and moved to orange, Texas where it started on stuff. atmosphere. I’m on staff now with him again, I’m here at Spring Hill Presbyterian Church. My title is missionary pastor. And I got to know Sam, because I was the youth director at a great church in orange, Texas called first pres orange. And we started our life there. And so this is a really interesting part of my life, my journey now, God gave us five really incredible years to do life in ministry with each other in orange. And then God called me to Dallas, God called him to Orlando and then he went to Houston and I became a full time missionary was on staff at a large Presbyterian Church in Dallas. Folks that go to that church are world changers, some of the most impacting godly men and women I’ve ever met with the means to change the world. And we’re using their means to do so. And I learned a lot about what it means to think not just about my congregation, not just about my life, but about what God was doing throughout the entire world. And I started getting upset passion for what God was doing all over the world. Just as a way of helping me kind of get to know you a little bit. I don’t want to call anybody out. But would you raise your hand if you are connected to a local church here somewhere in Bozeman? Okay, great. That helps me know kind of who you are, and lets you know a little bit more about who I am. As I’m sharing that. I’ve been involved in church my entire life. Some of you might be new, some of you might be in the exact same spot that I’m in church, or just some we did. It was just normal. I grew up in the south man. Everybody goes to church,


there was a Christian. And, and it was a part of my journey. Being in the church going to church right now. I remember the days of like Sunday school and the perfect attendance award was something to be achieved. And grew up, you know, going to a Methodist Church and in junior high, got interested in one thing, girls, and they were cute ones at the youth group. So guess where I was on Sunday night, the youth group. And and in that process, I experienced I don’t know what your experience has been. But I experience not a lot of real life. experience a lot of programs. I went to a lot of events, saw a lot of concerts, a lot of fun shaving cream wars all over the place with kids and eating banana splits, there were 60 feet long. But I grew up in a place where where the picture of leadership was kind of the perfect Christian role model. And I grew up in a ministry where it was a great program back in the 80s. I mean, it was program program program. And it was the largest Methodist Church and State Louisiana I love this church. I don’t want to dishonor the church in any way. But I personally struggle. I struggle with what it meant to be a young man. I struggle with pornography a lot. I struggle with this Jesus that seemed to be like rainbows and unicorns and everything nice. But But I had problems that didn’t seem to match up to the promises of Scripture, at least as I as I read them. I didn’t really see any transformation. In my own life. I just heard stories. And I just felt bad that I wasn’t living up to it. I really kind of grew up in a culture and not primarily in my church per se, but the people around me in the city that I lived in. And I felt that this deal being a Christian was more like a list of rules, some do’s and don’ts, and you better do this and you better not do that. And if you’re not there on Sunday, you must be going to hell. Because matters. You just gotta be there.

As long as you show up.

You want that sticker. You want to make sure that God is smiling down on you because your buddies in the chair, you don’t have to listen, you don’t have to change anything. You certainly don’t have to be transformed anything, you just gotta be there. And something in that over my life as a young man

didn’t add up.

Something wasn’t making sense. And I started reading scripture on my own and I was challenged a part of my journey. I shared a piece of this if you were here. Last month, I kind of shared a bit of my kind of heart as I kind of came here for the first time. And a big part of my journey was that I was just a little bit on the outside of what my Christians thought my Christian friends thought was okay. Can you hear me? Yes, he comes to Bible study. But you know, don’t let him get your sister. You like he’s he’s just a little bit out there. Yeah, he’s, I guess he probably Yes, Jesus. But he’s, he’s not really a disciple. I don’t see any real change in his life. So I lived in this really this weird world. Where where my heart knew that Jesus was who He said He was. I don’t know how I knew that I got challenged in my faith journey along the way. And I had a couple of important, like, moments where I kind of had to come to terms with is this Jesus guy really who He says He is, you know, CS Lewis says he’s either was, how’s it going until the space now he’s either a liar, a lunatic, or he’s Lord. And I thought about that, it’s got to be true. Jesus was either a liar, a total lunatic, or he’s the Lord. And somewhere in that journey of my own personal life, where where I was being confronted by all of the realities of my hormones, all the realities of like, life that wasn’t like, I’m going had a great family. It’s not like I was living on the streets, but like, I had real problems. There were things that were going on in my life that that rainbow Jesus and unicorn puppies weren’t answering. And fun youth groups were awesome. But not really getting to the heart of what like, I thought I saw in the scriptures. And so as I was challenging those things, I started realizing that that I was either going to take this stuff seriously or not. It’s kind of put up or shut up moment along the way. And I started thinking about for my own wife, like, what would it really mean to like, actually get to know Jesus not read about him, or just show up on Sunday to make sure that dad were happy in the youth ministry was happy. And you know, it’s kind of funny, honestly, because you’re a little sidebar here. But But as I grew up, and I came out of high school and college, I actually became a youth minister at the church that I serve, when I grew up in. And one of the things I learned very quickly as a youth minister was that you were a prime invitation for dinner. And as a young single, and that was a good thing. But I realized why. Because the parents of the kids in the youth group wanted to make sure that their kids knew the youth minister and the youth minister knew their kids, they either want a special treatment, or they want to make sure that I do my job so that they’d stay safe. And I saw time and time again, they didn’t want to have to do their job in the spiritual leadership of their children. They just want to make sure that the youth group guy would make sure that they were staying safe instana trouble. And I used to this is a little bit about my personality, you get a little bit older, stay a little bit about me, as I say this story. So I used to kinda like to mess with the parents. And so what would happen is they invite me over for dinner, right? And because I’m the youth pastor, I’m the guy who knows how to pray. I’ve got the job. They will, or Keith, would you mind praying for a dinner?

I can’t. And their faces would drop by sigma.

I’m off the clock.

And if I do, I have to charge a church time and a half. And I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. Of course, I’ll pray. But it was always this, like I there’s been this part of me, that’s always needed to kind of push a little bit. Because what I was experiencing wasn’t real. It wasn’t a real transformation in Jesus, it was this game I was playing.

It was a thing.

And the thing didn’t add up, frankly.

Because attendance didn’t get me anywhere with my heart.

A tendency gave me anywhere with my life, how I thought of myself, who I knew myself to be. And so I just kind of said, You know what, I’ve just got to I’ve just, I’m either in or out. And I found some friends in college. And they thought I was too wild too. But but in all of that they were Pharisees and I was who knows what, probably the woman at the well, at that point. Just live in a life that was way outside. But But I love Jesus. And over the years, what started coming together were people that actually spent time with me. It wasn’t in the youth group. Frankly, it wasn’t on Sunday morning. And it wasn’t like the Bible studies where I found actual transformation. Those are all good things. I don’t want to minimize those things. Don’t misunderstand me. But when I started realizing was that my own personal transformation was coming, when I was actually honest with myself and honest with other people in my life, about my struggles about whether this Jesus was real or not. And so that’s my passion. Now, the majority of you raise your hand, when I asked the question, are you connected to a church. And one of the things I’ve come to understand I spent seven years as a, as a on the streets, missionary in inner city, East Dallas, and the people there could carry less whether or not you go to church. In fact, if you let them know that it’s a lot of four letter words and hand gestures, telling you, you’re number one. And I spent a lot of time living life amongst non Christians, not trying to convert them. But actually just trying to get to know them. Because my church experiences told me and taught me that if I knocked on enough doors, and shared this gospel message enough times, people were going to get worn down by the message actually say yes to it. I never actually was challenged to actually decide whether or not I would live life. Amongst non Christian See, I had this crisis of conscience about 15 years ago, sorry, eight years ago, I was on staff at a fantastic church, evangelical, serving in missions all over the world, doing kingdom, building, life transforming things. And guess what all my friends were not just Christians,

with staff members.

The only people I knew how to relate to were staff members of the church. And yet I was being asked to share a gospel message with a broken world.

I didn’t know the broken world.

How can I share the gospel message with people I don’t even know.

And so got written me out of a very good job in a very good neighborhood, and planted us in an amazing


where following Jesus was not the priority. And out of that time, what we saw was not necessarily conversion, but we saw lots of transformation. in me, and in my neighbors, I really struggled because as a Christian, as we would do different things, there were scorecards that I had to, you know, sign up for the scorecards were this, if you did an event, how many people got saved?

If you didn’t event, how many people came.

And so all of a sudden, for years, I just had this, I just got to get people there. If I just get the people there, surely something will stick. And the truth is most of the church experience I had was simply, hey, we’re going to do an outreach, we’re going to invite all of our neighbors to church. That’s a good thing, right? It’s a good thing. But what I realized, even in a city, Dallas is the belt buckle of the Bible Belt. Okay, we have that title. And even in a city like Dallas that has some of the biggest seminaries, and some of the biggest churches, and some of the biggest parish church ministries around, I’d say you are hard pressed to see 25% of our city actually attending, or just connecting with Jesus at all. So in a city of a 1.2 million people 75% of that was never, ever going to come to church.

And God hit me with that, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

He started messing with my head.

Because I started having to ask the question,

if I grew up in a system that didn’t even make sense to me, was good. And ultimately, over time actually shepherded my heart quite well. But But I did have this crisis of conscious in that system. I can’t deny that. As good as those churches were, I still had that struggle. And I still chose to stay. And because of that, because the transformation in men, women investing my life, I actually met Jesus, realize just how powerful he is and who he is, and how he could actually transform me and heal me and set me free. And when I got that message, and when I started living it, I started being so convicted by the power of God to say, if this is freedom, if this is real, how can I stand not to share this with the broken and hurting world.

Problems I just didn’t know.

I didn’t know.

And over the last seven years, we’ve been experimenting with ways to just love people where they are, and to actually not invite them to church.

I don’t invite people to church anymore.

What I invite people into is a transforming relationship with Jesus Christ. And I work for Spring Hill. But the truth is, I don’t care if they come, they’re not. I don’t care if they go to your church, I don’t care if they start their own church in their basement. What I care about is the actual nature of freedom, there’s a tool that I’m going to give you and you may have heard this before my keep one up here, I’m gonna ask you guys to kind of send this out and pass it out around, I believe there’s enough for everybody to grab one. So if you’ll just do that and send it around as a as a part of the missions agency that I’ve been a part of, for the last seven years. And I’m I’m full time staff here at Spring Hill. And my life and calling is based here. But I’m also now part time on staff with CRM to maintain a lot of the relationships and ministry that we’ve developed over the last seven years so that that CRM, with its global impact is also connecting here in Bozeman with Spring Hill, and we’ll be doing some training events at Spring Hill, in partnership with CRM over the next few years as we as we do this. But there’s a model of Bible study that I’ve been given. That is the simplest Bible study in the absolute world, I believe you and Sam, when he spoke, did a little bit of this a few months ago, and shared but here’s why I want to share this with you. And here’s why I think it’s so important. We are here tonight. And some of us here tonight may not actually want to go to church on Sundays and may not go. But we’ll come here because it’s a little more comfortable. And it’s a platform that we can actually use joy and and we can we can be a little more honest out here, can we I mean, we’re not in the church is free, it’s free year, it’s an opportunity. And this ministry is an incredible place for you to bring your non Christian friends or other Christian friends alike as an on ramps of faith, right? It’s a great place, my church is also a great place. But the reality is the majority of the city is not going to come here for rips. The majority do the majority. Now a lot will we need to invite those guys and get them here and and build them up. That’s what this ministry is about. We want to support that I do support it. But we have to be honest with ourselves, the majority of this city will not come here. And they want to come to Spring Hill, or journey or EV free or any other church in this town that I haven’t yet learned about. They’re just not going to come. So the question we have to ask you the truth is if you look at the raw numbers of the United States population, we can’t, it’s mathematically impossible to raise enough money and started enough churches to fulfill the Great Commission in this United States. mathematically impossible. Average church, church plant takes a million and a half dollars to reach 100 people.

Average, most church plants fail.

So we have to think something different. If we’re going to be free, if we are transformed by the Gospel, Jesus really is who He says He is. And if you’ve been transformed by that message, then you and I share the equal burden, the equal joy, the equal opportunity to actually see life begin in people who are dead.

I want to see people raised from the dead.

I want to see people healed. I want to see brokenness shattered by the love and the power and the anointing of Jesus. And, and the way that we’re trying do that working that out is sharing the simple discovery Bible study tool that anyone can lead. I trained 14 second graders to do that. So I know, you guys are in good shape. You can handle it. All right, unless you have too many beers. That’s a whole different story. So here’s what we’re going to look at one, I want to read this verse, I want to let sit, we’re going to walk through these questions a little bit at our table. But mostly, as I lead us through this, let’s just let’s just look at this together. I’ll read this out loud, you can follow along since you got it there in front of you. Here’s what it says Second Corinthians 312 through 18. Since we have such hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For To this day, when they read the Old Covenant, that same veil remains and lifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day, whenever Moses is read, avail lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. And now the Lord is the Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord, who is the spirit Where the Spirit of the Lord is

there is freedom.

There is freedom.

There is freedom.

And sometimes wonder whether we’re actually walking in freedom or not. if we’re honest with ourselves, we can become overburdened

with taxes,

marital problems, sick children, spouses, parents, financial issues, job issues, I just moved here from Dallas, I got a lot of problems. I’m struggling. It’s hard. We’ve uprooted everything to be here. It’s not easy. I don’t need a pity party. I’m just being honest. So the reality is when when we say that we walk in freedom, it’s not that we just hold on to that. And and it’s not the Pollyanna answer. It is am I really going to allow this freedom to be freedom or not. And I’m walking in freedom, guess what happens? Other people want to know about it. So when I, when we first moved into Dallas, I did not announce that I was a pastor or a missionary or anything like that. In fact, I wanted to run from that title as far as I could. In fact, it’s a little bit odd now that I’m being called pastor Keith. Because for seven years as people introduce themselves to me, they go, because in Dallas, just like here, well, what do you do for a living? I’d say, Well, I’m a photographer, and I do some other stuff. Because I knew that if I categorize myself with my title, they would automatically put me in a place of not letting me into their lives if they did not know Jesus. Now, if you love Jesus, you’d give me a hug. But everybody else, and those are the people that I really wanted to spend my time with. And ultimately what happened one of our neighbors, at six months of just living our life, just walks across the street, looks at my wife and says, Who you guys really

she saw something different.

We didn’t tell her about Jesus until she asked. She was a person of peace, God had prompted her heart to be ready. And my wife Cindy said, you know, actually, you’re right. You know, we I am a speech therapist, my husband is a photographer. But we’re also full time missionaries. And Morgan, we’ve been so transformed by the power of Jesus, that we want to live our lives in such a way that everyone has a chance to know him. And we want you to know him. But you need to know right now, if you never know him the way we do that we still love you. We care about you, you’re our friend.

But that’s who we are. That’s what we’re about. She does

that make sense. And she just left.

Six months later, she had a powerful encounter with the Lord alone,

because of a story that my wife had shared with her about something that happened to my daughter. And guess what Jesus showed up. And that’s

what Jesus actually shows up.

And so in the midst of this, as we read that this is freedom, I want to give you this tool, what you have in your hands is the simplest, easiest, most multiple Bible Bible study you could ever have. And you can give it away all day long. And we give this to non Christians. And we don’t join them. We don’t ask them to come to our groups, we give it to that we meet them where they are. We go to the people that are hurting, and we bring the gospel with us. We don’t ask them to leave their city, we don’t ask them to leave their home, we don’t ask them to leave what they’re comfortable with, to be able to be comfortable. I’m uncomfortable at church. I understand the words, I understand the songs, I know the rhythm, I know we’re gonna sing to here, we’re gonna stand up there, we’ll sit down here, we’ll do some of this, and we’re going to get out. And I’m comfortable with that. But for my non Christian friends there, it’s totally foreign. and inviting them into that is such a huge hurdle, that they won’t come and do it because they’re the insecure ones. Why? Because they’re leaving what they know, to be a part of what we know.

Does that sound fair? Does that sound like what Jesus did?

So this tool is as easy as what you see. So here’s what we do. Here’s what we do. We train people, we train you, we train people just like you, in your churches, to go outside of your church just to meet that person of peace. Luke 10 talks about the person of peace. Jesus said, the disciples out said, Look, wherever they welcome you give them your blessing and stay with them. They were people of peace, they were ready to receive, they were hungry. They were spiritually open. They were people that had influence in their town, and the disciples stayed with them, and they shared the message with them. And then it multiplied because what they did is they went to their friends, and share what they had learned. Instead of saying, hey, come over here, they took what they had learned they would they went to their friends. So here’s how this works. If we want this city to be free, if you want to be free, if you have friends that can do this with you to learn about Jesus on your own. Whenever you come to this Bible study, come here, come to your churches, Bible studies, do all those things. But you can also do this at work over lunch in 15 to 20 minutes. No excuses. doesn’t take that much time. Here’s how we do it. You read the passage, you got it right there on your piece of paper. And you can answer any passage, I’ve got list of passages, if you wanted to try something different. You read the passage and you repeat it in your own words, it’s a form of learning. When you can say a passage back in your own words, you’re taking it in, and you’re understanding what it means. So you share that in your group of one, two or three people. Then you ask this question number two, what could this passage mean? So you let people in their own environment begin to explore the Scriptures for themselves. And here’s why. I don’t want to be in the room. Let me ask you this question. How many you guys have been to a Sunday school class? Okay, how many of you into Sunday school class with a really smart teacher? And how many of you felt very, really super comfortable answering questions when that really smart teacher asked the question.

Two of you, maybe three, he went to Oxford, that doesn’t count.

So if we, as people who are familiar with church are afraid to answer questions, when we know the teachers really good, how much more than with people that don’t know Jesus, how much more they be intimidated if a guy like me was in the room. So when I need a personal piece at a bar, or restaurant, or the guy that’s fixing my car, the girl that’s helped me out here in there, if I sense that their personal piece, I did this in a cab ride home from the airport one time, what do you do for a living? And I just said, The Lord told me Be bold. So I was bold. As I work with people, I’m a spiritual coach. That’s it. What’s a spiritual coach do? So I help people discover God? What do you mean? So there’s a lot of people in the city of Dallas that won’t go to church, but they’re curious about who got his he was? Oh, you mean like me? Hello, right there in the car? What? I have to do nothing but pay attention. So what I did is I said, here’s what you do. Get your you have anybody else that wants to learn this with you? Yeah, man, my, my brother’s been trying to figure this crap out for years. Well, great. Get your brother in the room. And I’ll hand you this tool, and I’ll show you how to use it. You guys do it on your own? You’re not gonna tell us what to believe?


That’s new.

I really appreciate their bed time with leave all the time. I don’t like those guys.

I don’t either.

So they asked the question, what could this mean? And because they don’t know anything they can explore together? Then you say this question. What does this passage tell you about God? What could you learn about God’s nature, because of what this passage just said? And then they go around the answer that question, what does this teach you about humanity? What does this teach you about what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman?

Where do you see that in that scripture?

And then we ask this question, if

if we’re not presuming that this is the truth, because the people we’re talking about don’t think that this is the truth.

So we say if,

if this is God speaking, how could that change your life? Or how would that change your life?

If this was really true,

if we’re the Spirit of the Lord, is there was actual freedom?

What would that actually mean for your life?

And then, question number six,

hey, who outside of this group that’s being here tonight? Who would benefit from hearing what we just learned, you know, somebody in your life that might benefit from the conversation we had tonight? And then they asked the question, yeah. Uncle Steve, my.

How can you share it with them?

I tell you what, let’s all meet next week number number eight, figure out a time to meet again, you Hey, guys, was this helpful?

This is kind of cool.

You want to meet again? Yeah, let’s do it next week. Or Listen, you said you can tell Steve, Steve about what we talked about. I’ll write that down. And next week, I’m gonna find out if you talk to Steve or not. And then they come back the next week, and you haven’t had to go

to get chance talking on the stage.

Now, okay, well, how can I help you do that?

These are non Christians.

Engaging the word and typically what happens we start talking about this is people getting their keys. What about heresy?

These people don’t think about the Bible. They’re gonna have some crazy stuff.

Well, probably, because guess what, we talk about some crazy stuff in my Bible studies,

because we’re still growing and learning.

And so here’s what we do, what we encourage them to do is say, look, here’s the deal. The only thing that we asked you to do in this study, is that you can’t discuss anything unless it’s written in black and white right there.


you know, I read this other Bible verse with a Hey, Kyle, that’s awesome that you read that. But for the sake of our Bible study here tonight, we’re only we’re only going to read this one. We don’t want to confuse anybody with other Bible verses yet, because we don’t know anything yet. So we’re just gonna stick with this and if that’s okay, because that’s the rule for our Bible say, okay, right. And then when you ask them this question, well, what could this mean, they could come up with some hair rain. So here’s what you did. You know, that’s interesting. Steve, you said, but up? Where did you find that

in the scripture?

Well, I guess we’ll guess it’s not really there is? No, no, let’s, let’s just focus on what’s actually here. If we’re going to focus on trying to figure this thing out together, we need to focus on just this, okay? And that’s the failsafe for keeping things biblically oriented.

In the beginning was the Word

and the Word was God, the Word was with God. The word is enough. And what we’re talking about are not people that are ready to be pastors, we’re talking about people who have so minimal understanding of anything spiritual, much less the right theology, I don’t care about their right theology, yet. They’re not even saying yes to Jesus yet. There’s time for that when the time comes. But this format can give be given to anyone and as and just bring it back to the simple questions means you can go home tonight and do this with your kids. Do with your wife, you anyone, anytime.

And so if the Spirit of the Lord brings freedom,

if God has moved in you in free to have you been set free of Jesus is your Lord. If you’re still wondering to asking questions, hey, I’d love to talk to you about that too. But if you’re not if you if you are a follower of GOD, if you’re a believer, if this question that I had to come to my own decision about, easy a liar is a lunatic or is the Lord if you’ve gotten to that Lord situation, and you’ve been set free, and this is an incredible tool for you to find those people of peace in your life. And you can connect them with the scriptures in a very simple way. Where the Spirit of the Lord is this freedom, I want freedom. I want more for me. My wife, I love her. She’s with us prayer ministry, and people get set free from all kinds of crazy stuff, Noah, and the things she says all the time. There’s always more, always more. So I don’t care how free how broken you are. I’m here to tell you that there is always more. And if you think you’ve gotten to the fullness of Christ in your life, yet, I want to lovingly challenge you say no, because there’s always more our father draws us into His presence, step by step in the midst of our failures, and successes, and he can wreck them all with the blink of an eye and yet loves us so much. That he would set us free in spite of our sin. In spite of our failures, and our pride in our anger, and our stuff in our pornography.

He can say you don’t need anymore and walk us out the room.

This this is the Jesus of Nazareth. Amen.

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