Keith began his Christian life as a layman in the oil exploration business. His first book, The Taste of New Wine, surprised everyone by quickly becoming a hot bestseller. It was honest, direct and loving in what appeared to be an almost completely zipped up denominational Christian world. In fact, some Christian book sellers kept the book “under the counter” (because it had the word “wine” in the title! No kidding!). But the book struck a chord somehow and over the years people as different as Billy Graham, President Jimmy Carter, George Gallup, Jr., Bob Schuller, M. Scott Peck, George Carey (recent Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury), Madam Chaing Kai-Shek, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and Ravi Zacharias, told us that The Taste of New Wine and subsequent books were very important to them.
The Taste of New Wine flashed across the English speaking world and was translated into 10 other languages*. Calls and letters flooded in from around the world with questions about trying to live the Christian faith. Keith wrote 23 more books (so far), each about different aspects of trying to live for God in everyday relationships in the midst of tremendous changes resulting from two wars, an explosion of new discoveries and technological advances, the transformation of world economies, and the influx of people from many other cultures.
Keith began to write books about the blocks of all kinds that trip us up, getting in the way of living for God (e.g. controlling, addictions, codependence—all kinds of self-centeredness that Keith discovered in himself and all around him, things that keep us from becoming the clear-eyed, loving and creative people God made us to be.
He got degrees in theology, psychology, and finance (the three areas Jesus dealt with specifically), looking for help with facing his own problems and temptations that surfaced during the process of living with the notoriety of being a best-selling author and popular speaker. He wrote about his own and others’ problems and difficulties trying to live as Christians in an addictive culture that he saw might destroy itself.
After an incredible run as the author of several number one titles on the Christian best sellers list Keith went through a painful divorce, and everything in his life changed. About a year after that, I met him.
Andrea is sure right about that. In 1974 I had an affair for the first time ever. And after several years of therapy my marriage ended in a divorce. It would have been easier for me and for my children and my good friends if death had ended our marriage, but the fact was—and I hate to admit it—the divorce was my fault due to my own immaturity, sin and self centeredness. And most of all I hated what my sin did to hurt our three daughters and their mother.
About a year after my crashing and burning and divorce, I met Andrea while at work in Waco, TX. After almost two years of seeing each other, we married in 1979.
When I finally came to myself in the mid-life desert, I went to treatment. It was like coming back from the far country and home to the Father. I had never failed in any significant way before this, and now I just wanted a chance to help people who, like me, had squandered God’s love and gifts but who hadn’t heard about the Father’s waiting on the hill for the wandering child to come back home to Him. I prayed for a place to go to tell people about the unbelievable grace of God’s forgiveness and love—and His offer if a chance to begin a new life. Now that I was at last aware of the depth of my own sin and the damage sin can cause, I felt I might be able to help other people in the church who were late comers to failure and emotional pain.
Predictably, there were not many invitations for me to share my new discoveries. I could understand why and didn’t blame anybody (but myself). So I prayed for guidance. God seemed to say to me, “Why don’t you help alcoholics and addicts. They don’t care that you’ve failed.”
So I traveled across America and to several foreign countries for twenty years. I spoke, taught and wrote more books to help other people who had hit rock bottom and found themselves on the edge of the religious culture of their earlier years.
Then about five years ago, Andrea and I resurfaced and saw that the church was terribly divided over theological interpretations of God’s attitudes, particularly about gender issues. We worked for several years conducting small group experiments in eight different states.
During this time some wonderful and talented, loving, younger Christian men and women came to us and asked me to “come back out” and speak to the young people in America about a life of faith in Christ that isn’t afraid to face honestly the real problems people experience: fear, moral failure, and sexuality, etc. in a society that has cut itself loose from its spiritual roots and doesn’t seem to care.
I said “What are you talking about? I am an eighty year old dinosaur—why would they listen to me?”
They said, “Because you have been down the road, experienced failure and rejection yet continued loving God and trying to help people in trouble find hope that is based in spiritual reality. We think you’ll be honest and loving and you’ll tell us the truth about the grace of God in Jesus.”
So after a lot of thought and prayer, Andrea and I have decided to launch this new website and let these young Christians mentor us about the medium so we can see if any of you out there who are trying to find out how to live with integrity and love would like to go with these inspiring young Christians and us on the adventure of trying to find out if God is real. And if God is real, what does he have for us to do with the rest of our lives? The adventure includes finding something to do for a living that we’re passionate about and dealing with our insecurities, doubts, hidden fears, and the struggles with sexuality (even within a good marriage).
If you’re interested, check out this website and let us hear from you.
*We discovered that in 2001 The Taste of New Wine was selected and listed in William Petersen and Randy Peterson’s book as one of the 100 Christian Books that Changed the Century.
Keith Miller was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma April 19, 1927 to parents Earle T. Miller and Mable Olivia Davis Miller. He graduated from Tulsa Central high School in 1945, then served in the Navy at the end of World War II. In 1950 Keith graduated with a degree in Finance from Oklahoma University with honor, Beta Gamma Sigma (the Phi Beta Kappa equivalent for the Business Administrative School.) He received a degree in Business Administration and also lettered in basketball.
After graduation, he married and began a fifteen-year period working in the Oil Exploration business in Texas and Oklahoma. He worked for Standard of Indiana oil companies: Stanolind, Pan American Petroleum and Amaco. He then helped form two independent oil companies: King Resources and Yinger Petroleum.
During this time Keith and his wife had three daughters, Leslie Williams, Kristin Huffman, and Mary-Keith Dickinson.
In 1956 Keith became the founding director of Laity Lodge, and with Howard E. Butt, Jr. developed programs to help business and professional people take their faith into all areas of their lives.
With Bruce and Hazel Larson, Keith hosted the founding conferences at Majorca Spain for the Medicine of the Person movement for physicians and psychologists in the United States. This movement was an offshoot of the Groupe Medecine de la personne movement pioneered by Dr. Paul Tournier of Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Tournier, a general practitioner, recognized that many patients needed help going deeper than drugs and surgery, and developed an approach that integrated medical knowledge with living focused on spiritual principles resulting from a commitment to God.
Keith also co-led conferences with Dr. Tournier in Athens, Greece; Sorrento, Italy; Lisbon, Portugal and Munich Germany.
During those years Keith studied theology at Berkeley Divinity School, an Episcopal Theological school now merged with Yale Divinity School in New Haven, CT. Later he went to the Earlham School of Religion to study with Elton Trueblood and Alexander Purdy, becoming the first graduate in history (in a class of one) from a Quaker theology seminary. Afterward, Keith was a lecturer in residence at Earlham School of Religion for three terms. He has also been a guest lecturer at Princeton Theological Seminary, Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY, Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, TX and a number of other seminaries over the years. He was a residing fellow at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest.
(The Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest awarded Keith an Honorary Doctorate Degree in May of 2009. The citation noted that Keith is a “Passionate Christian, eclectic writer, marketplace apostle, dynamic public speaker and gifted counselor, (who) thrive(s) on leading people to God.”)
Keith went on to receive a Master’s degree in Psychological counseling from the University of Texas in Austin.
In 1965, Keith’s first book, The Taste of New Wine, was published. He has been a full time writer and lecturer since that time. To date, over two million copies of this book have been sold, and a new edition is scheduled for 2009. The Taste of New Wine was listed as one of 100 Christian Books that Changed the Century by William J. Petersen and Randy Petersen.
In 1970, Keith was made an honorary chief of the Creek Indian tribe.
For ten years Keith worked with Bruce Larson as Bruce was developing the ideas and books about Relational Theology, a renewal of the concept of a personal relationship with God that permeates all other relationships—with others and within oneself.
Books: All together Keith has written or co-authored 24 books on subjects including 1) Christian living, 2) addictions and codependence, 3) the process of spiritual transformation, 4) discovering and achieving one’s vocational and bucket-list dreams, 5) devotions, and 6) business—related to the entrepreneurial process.
Media: In addition, Keith wrote, co-directed and performed in two television series for Trinity Productions at Trinity Parish, New York, NY (“A Hunger for Healing” and “Wrestling with Angels”). He also wrote and recorded on video a writing course for non-fiction writing, entitled “Write from the Heart.”
Poetry and Music: Keith wrote a book of ballads (about Texas), and the lyrics and stories for two musicals for young people.
More than four and a half million copies are in print and his various books have been translated into as many as 25 languages. (Of these books, four have been number one on the religious bookseller’s list.) A complete list of these titles is on Schedule A.
In 1976 Keith and his wife were divorced. Several years later he married Andrea Wells. Keith and Andrea have been married for thirty years and live in Austin, TX.
In addition to his three daughters, Keith has three sons-in-law, The Rev. Stockton Williams, Michael Huffman and Karl Dickinson. He is also the grandfather of six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
With this unique combination of experiences as a lay businessman and management consultant trying to learn how to live out his faith in the business world, as a speaker, writer and teacher whose marriage failed, and with studies in business, theology and psychology, Keith has had influence in many arenas.
- Keith consulted and wrote two books with Tom J. Fatjo, Jr. on the Entrepreneurial process used in developing significant business ventures (With No Fear of Failure and Power Money).
- Keith helped Tom Fatjo develop the ultimate Strength conference for CEO’s and independent business owners at the Houstonian in Houston, Texas.
- Keith was a paid consultant to Jarrell McCracken for twenty years, from 1965 to 1985, helping him build Word, Inc., into the largest Christian Book and Music company in the world. (Word was sold to the American Broadcasting Company.)
- Keith has conducted business seminars for executives at companies such as EDS (Dallas, TX), the Wallestad Foundation (Edina, MN), and the National Asphalt Pavement Association (Dallas, TX) and Williams Marketing, Inc.
- Keith has been keynote speaker at a regional meeting of a YPO group (Young Presidents Organization) in Hilton Head, NC. and led a seminar on Creative Dreaming for a YPO group in Colorado.
- Keith was a lecturer at the International Meeting of the Roy Williams Marketing Institute.
- Keith was a keynote speaker at the first U.S. National Conference on Evangelism in Minneapolis, MN sponsored by Billy Graham and Oswald Hoffman in 1968.
- At the invitation of Presiding Bishop John Hines, Keith spoke on the Bishop’s Series at the National Convention of the Episcopal Church in Houston.
- At the request of the Presiding Bishop John Allen of the Episcopal Church , Keith provided and disseminated a small group course that was used by the Episcopal Church nationwide. He and Bruce Larson co-wrote the course, called The Edge of Adventure. It was followed by two others, Living the Adventure, and The Passionate People.
- At the first visit of an Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury to the U.S., Archbishop William Carey requested that a conference for laypeople in the Episcopal Church be held. A national conference was convened in Washington, D.C. Keith and Verna J. Dozier were the two keynote speakers with Archbishop Carey.
- Keith spoke at the National Episcopal Conference on Renewal, in Asheville, NC, keynoted by Presiding Bishop, Ed Browning.
- He spoke to a Pastor’s Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention.
- Keith spent two weeks in 1971 in the South Pacific at the invitation of the Chaplain of the Armed Forces, speaking to senior officers’ retreats for the 8th U.S. Army Chaplain’s Corps of the United States Armed Forces.
- Keith spoke at the annual retreat for the American armed forces and their families stationed in Europe at the invitation of the Chaplain of the Armed Forces. The retreat was held in Bern Kastel-Kues, Germany.
- Keith led a Good Friday Services at the Pentagon.
- Keith spoke at a Sunday worship service at Annapolis.
- Keith spoke at several national Laymen’s Institutes with Howard Butt, Jr., Billy Graham, Dick Van Dyke et al.
- Keith was the keynote speaker for four days at New Zealand’s first all-church National Conference on Evangelism at the invitation of Archbishop Paul Reeves.
- Keith was the Easter sunrise service speaker in the Rose Bowl at Pasadena, CA. This sermon was recorded by a radio broadcaster and became a best-selling Easter sermon titled “Inside, I Trembled.” He later performed it before live audiences as a dramatic monologue. The performance was filmed and is now on DVD.
- Keith spoke at the American Baptist National Convention.
- Keith was invited to speak at several annual meetings of The Evangelistic Association of New England, held at Harvard, MA.
- Keith spoke at an Annual Regional Conference of the Episcopal Order of St. Luke, on Martha’s Vineyard.
- Keith spoke with Bruce Larson et al at several national Conferences for Faith at Work, an organization formed to help people explore, discern and act on their many gifts and calls in the complexity of their daily lives for the good of God’s world.
- Keith and three others organized and hosted three “Festival of Hope” conferences. He worked with Bruce Larson, Lloyd Ogilvie and Lyman Coleman. The conferences were attended by a combined total of 1,500 clergy people in California, St. Louis and Baltimore.
- Keith and Dr. Elton Trueblood took people on a cruise to Athens and taught about the philosophical background of the Christian faith.
- Keith and Andrea took a group of people on a cruise with Pia Mellody where they taught about Codependence and Play.
- Keith led “The Edge of Adventure” Conference at Sewanee, TN at St. Mary’s Sewanee Conference Center, in 2007 and at a number of other centers.
- Keith co-led conferences in the Black Forest (Germany) with Helmut Thieleke, German theologian, and Dr. Walther Lechler, founder of Personal Psychiatry in Bad-Herrenalb, Germany, and also founder of Emotions Anonymous (after Lechler visited the U.S. in 1954 where he learned about the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous).
- Keith and Bruce Larson co-hosted a conference sponsored by the Eli Lilly Foundation at Princeton Theological School. The presenters included R. D. Laing, who did seminal work on schizophrenia, Walther Lechler, Earle Koile, head of Counseling Psychology at U.T. (Texas), James McCord, President of Princeton Theological School, and several other outstanding psychologists and theologians.
- Keith spoke at the National Episcopal Conference on Alcohol and Other Drugs, where Keith was awarded the first annual Samuel Shoemaker Award.
- Keith spoke at national conferences produced by Health Communications, Inc. (HCI Books) on the following subjects: Codependence, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Shame (with John Bradshaw and others).
- Keith spoke for the Foundation for Community Encouragement at the invitation of the founder, Scott Peck.
- Keith spoke with John Bradshaw at a national conference for therapists on problems of adult survivors of incest, abuse, and neglect.
- Keith was a keynote speaker at a National Conference of the Association of Christian Counselors, Nashville, TN
- Keith spoke to the Annual Pastoral Care Clergy Conference, Episcopal Diocese of Texas
- Keith was the program speaker at Freedom to Live 2007: An International Conference on Addictions Ministry, held at St. Andrews University (for the Seventh Day Adventist Church)
- He spoke at a national meeting of the National Recovery Ministries of the Episcopal Church 2007, held in Little Rock, AR
- Keith spoke at The Rush Institute Annual Conferences for ministers, physicians and other health care professionals on the relationship of spirituality and addiction at the Presidio in San Francisco, CA (and a second similar conference in Boston, MA).
- Keith has led conferences on Addictions and Christianity in Stockholm, Sweden, Oslo, Norway, Mexico City, Mexico and Canada.
- At several national Salvation Army Leadership Conferences held in Lancaster, PA (1994 and 1996), Keith trained addictions counselors who work in their 1,300 bed recovery centers.
Andrea grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and went to Furman University in Greenville, S.C. where she majored in Piano Pedagogy. While there she worked as a vocal studio accompanist and a switchboard operator. After graduating, she moved to Waco, Texas where she attended Baylor University for two semesters before going to work at Word Music in Waco, TX. Soon she became director of Music Marketing at Word Music, the then largest Christian music company in the U.S.
She was single, having been divorced six years before we met. I had been through a painful divorce that was my fault and was trying to come to grips with how to face and deal with my own self-centeredness which had surfaced, hurt my wife, and children more than I could have processed if I hadn’t been in so much denial.
Andrea and I were introduced by Paul and Ursula Van Duinen when Paul was director of sales for Word books.
Andrea said that she had about decided that she was probably going to be one of God’s single people. So we began to talk about some of the problems of being single as Christians—and wrote a book about that called The Single Experience.
Andrea was a writer and wrote a book for Christian music choir directors about how to do some of things choir directors in churches are not taught in music schools or in seminaries (The Choir Directors Handbook). The book met a real need, and I and the staff at Word were very impressed with the creative things Andrea developed to help choir directors do their vocation of helping people worship through music.
Andrea then wrote a best selling book, BodyCare, that contained a creative approach to combine a healthy diet with physical fitness and a deeper devotional life with God.
Subsequently Andrea wrote two books called Facing Codependence and Facing Love Addiction with Pia Mellody, and a book with Dr. Richard Grant called Recovering Connections—which brought together several aspects of psychiatry regarding stages of development and living in a relationship to the God Jesus called Father.
I had not known Andrea before my divorce, so was surprised to discover that she was interested in helping people live and relate to each other in the context of their spiritual lives.
We were married in 1979 and celebrated our 30th anniversary in February of 2009.
Together we have tried to face, walk through and grow from our own separate (and shared) difficulties, while trying to help others along the way. We continue to try to grow up as individuals living in the reign of God Jesus announced and inaugurated. We are grateful to the wonderful people who encouraged us to step out and invite some of you who also want to be on the honest to God adventure of the living Christ and some of his other hurting and growing children.
All my life I have been searching to discover what is real. As a child, I was told that “God is real.” At church, people talked about God and Jesus, but the way they talked seemed to me that they didn’t really expect God to show up personally…although they said he would be “with us.”
One night, when I was about six, my mother suggested that I begin to pray at bedtime because “God is listening for you to talk to him – just like I do.”
At first I was terrified. “You mean God is right here in this room?” I squeaked?
She nodded and said, smiling, “Yes, and he’s forgiven you for all your sins, and loves you very much.” She leaned down, kissed me on the forehead, and left, closing the door. I located what I thought was God in the upper left corner of my dark room. I trembled to think of all the things I had said and thought and done in that room alone with the door closed – things I would not want God to know about.
I stayed awake until I could hardly keep my eyes open – so God wouldn’t do anything surprising. Then, just as I thought I was going to have to call out in fear (and mortify myself), I remembered that my wise, earthy mother had said, “…and God has forgiven you for all your sins – and he loves you very much.”
I thought about that for a few minutes. As I dropped off to sleep, I whispered my first conscious prayer: “Thank you God.”
All of a sudden the notion had been planted that Somebody Big and Powerful was in my room with me and wanted to hear from me about my life! That was exciting, dangerous and very different! My spiritual journey had begun.
About the time I graduated from high school, my only brother was killed in the Air Force. During my second year in college I broke my neck in a car accident and thought I would be paralyzed or die. But I recovered. A year later year my father died.
My senior year in college I married a girl I had fallen in love with, and after graduation went to work for an oil company in the exploration division. But my search for a real, personal, interacting relationship with God kept me restless. I went to church but people seemed to place almost no emphasis on getting to know God himself in some ongoing intimate way.
So I decided to enroll in a theological seminary (that is now Yale Divinity School). Within two years I knew something was wrong. I had gone there wanting to know how people could get to know God intimately in such a way that they could have something of God’s Spirit in their lives. But everywhere I found that people wanted to intellectualize the Good News, to discuss truth about God and Jesus and what Jesus taught.
I learned a lot about God and the Christian faith but at that time there was little emphasis on knowing God intimately. I began to sweat. Maybe the whole idea that the most important thing about Jesus was his announcing and inaugurating a Kingdom, a world inside the world we know in which God loves us personally and wants us to live an exciting life!
After four terms of this, I was in a state of inner turmoil inside that no one knew about, and I began to fear for my sanity. Finally I realized I had to get out of there. I completed the forth term, and left.
Returning to the oil company was excruciating as I lived with the first human failure I had ever experienced – not completing the degree. There was no way I could explain what was going on in my soul, behind the confident mask I showed to the world. I began to work, but life was drab and there seemed to be no hope, no ultimate purpose any more. I remember walking down the street and suddenly breaking out in a cold sweat.
Then I got word that my mother was dying of cancer. I’d already buried everyone else in my family of origin she was my last contact with my childhood. I was 27 years old. One day the fear was so bad I got in my company car and took off on a field trip alone. I pulled off the side of the road in despair. My usual optimism had disappeared and I felt like an old man on a great gray treadmill going no place, in a world that was made up of black clouds all around me. As I sat there I began to weep like a little boy. There was nothing I wanted to do with my life. I looked up toward the sky and said, “God, if there’s anything you want in this stinking soul, take it.”
Something came into my life that day which has never left, a deep intuitive realization of what it was God wanted from me, which I’d never known before. I realized then that it was not just my money or time that God wanted. It occurred to me that He wanted my permission to come into my life and show me how to live creatively and freely in loving relationships with God and people. I realized in that instant that if I’d give my permission, God would begin to show me life as I’d never seen it before! Although I could not articulate for many months what had happened to me, I knew to the core of my soul that I had somehow made intimate contact with the very Meaning of Life.
The next ten years were like a movie. I began to teach a high school Sunday School class the story of the Bible. I became their tour guide and pointed out how, if the message was true, ordinary people like them and me might live and pray and relate lovingly to other people in our lives. I transferred to a branch of the oil company in Oklahoma City so I could take care of, and later bury, my mother, who died of cancer in 1956. I was twenty-eight and every member of my family of origin had died.
During the next few years I helped start two oil companies, one of which was very fortunate and experienced rapid growth. There I met some other people who had gotten on the Christian adventure with their whole lives. I looked for a place to teach and share what we were learning and living. Howard Butt, Jr. invited me to become the first director of Laity Lodge, a new lay conference center in Southwest Texas, built to help lay business and professional people learn about living on the personal adventure with God which was spreading across America through all kinds of people in different places.
Laity Lodge became successful beyond our largest dreams, and I wrote a book there, trying to capture what we were teaching and learning. It was called The Taste of New Wine and it sold world wide in eleven languages.
Then, after writing eight more bestselling books, traveling and speaking in the United States and Europe and the Far East, getting graduate degrees in Theology and Psychological Counseling along the way, my world crashed.
The pressure of all the attention and material success (I’d prayed for) was too much for me to handle. I began to drink too much and had what we Americans call a full-blown mid-life crisis. I was astonished to watch myself do some terrible, destructive things and wound up sabotaging some wonderful relationships, which resulted in the end of my marriage of twenty-seven years.
I withdrew and began to grapple with the fact that my entire life was in disarray. I was a Christian who wrote books and lectures about relating to God and other people. It should have been no surprise, but almost no one seemed to want me to write or speak to them anymore. I still loved God, felt deeply connected to God, and was still trying to help people find hope in their lives through a relationship with God. I had walked through a lot of grief burying every member of my family, but this was different. I was the one who was bewildered and lonely now, and helpless to change my situation. I was in the midst of a trackless desert of my own making, and I had no idea how to find my way across it.
Finally in June 1985, I checked into a treatment center, where I found out all kinds of interesting – and devastating – truths about myself. Everything in me rebelled at seeing the unreality of my “fine Christian” personality. I had been consciously sincere about my faith, but in denial about my intense self-centeredness. One night, several weeks after checking in, I woke up at 3:45 in the morning gripped with utter terror. I couldn’t remember ever having felt such fear before. I sensed that my life was at stake, the life I’d always known. I hurried to the nurse’s station and wept while the older nurse just held me like she would hold a child. Then, some time later, still shuddering occasionally with fear, I finally got out the story of my frightening experience and powerlessness, and of what I had just realized about my life. I surrendered my broken life, my family, and my whole future to God – no strings. I asked God to show me how to do God’s will that day – and be God’s person – one hour at a time.
On that day, after I had surrendered my future to God, I entered my own personal inner desert experience that was to last fifteen years. After that very humiliating public failure, including a divorce, I faced a grim vocational and financial future. I had failed and could not blame it on anyone else – my worst nightmare.
I kept meeting with some people who were also struggling with addictive behaviors and began to see more of my self-centeredness and need to control myself, my family, and my destiny. But my vocational life of speaking and writing had shriveled more than anyone else knew.
Finally one day, I said to God, “Lord, I still want to love your people and help them find you and hope, but the Church doesn’t want my help. I don’t blame them but…where can I go?”
It was almost as if God answered me audibly, “Keith, go and love alcoholics and addicts. They could care less about your past. They just need to be loved.” So I began to live a quieter, less public life. During that time I remembered a conference I had attended twenty years before. It was in St. Louis, led by an Anglican priest named Ernest Southcott. When I’d told him my story, he’d laughed and said, “Keith, you’re like a mountain guide trying to take people safely over the ‘mountain of faith.’ You climb ahead, calling back over your shoulder, “Watch out for the shale here!” Or, “There are big rattle snakes under those stones!”
I remember nodding, a little puzzled about what this very intelligent Anglican priest was telling me.
“But Keith, you are so disciplined and relentless in your climbing, no one but an Olympic athlete could follow you. However, there is another way to get on the other side of the ‘faith mountain.’”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“You can dig a tunnel. Then even people in wheelchairs can follow you.”
“Dig a tunnel. That’s a marvelous image! Why don’t more spiritual leaders do that?”
Southcott smiled. “Because,” he said, chuckling, “not many are willing to disappear long enough to dig a tunnel.”
As I remembered that night many years before, I realized in 1985 that I didn’t want to disappear that long either. However, since I seemed to have ‘disappeared’ already, I decided to start tunneling to study, pray and investigate the Spiritual journey of authentic people and ways they had learned to live and love authentically. I found such help in the scriptures, in lives and writings of Christian saints, some founders of the major religions, and in the contemporary lives of recovering alcoholics and addicts, as well as all sorts of serious surrendering Christians.
In one way or another very different kinds of people were learning how to live for and with God intimately in the wild, fearful world of materialism and unreality of which I’d always been a part. Along the way I had written a number of books about what we were learning. These were books about the compulsion to control people and circumstances (see Compelled to Control) and about healing using the 12-step model (see A Hunger for Healing.)
Then, over two decades after I’d entered that tunnel, my wife Andrea (whom I married in 1979) and I started coming out of the other side of that tunnel together. We surveyed our lives and work. We checked with our publishers and they reported to us that there are about five million of our books in print in English. Also, they reported that some of them have been translated into many languages – one into twenty-five. And along the way during the past twenty-one years, I’ve done some speaking in Europe, Sweden, Norway, England, Japan, Korea, South America, Canada and Mexico, but we have not been in touch personally with very many of the readers of our books in the US.
In our personal desert and tunneling through the isolated mountain of faith, we have stepped into and written about an exciting spiritual adventure of learning how to receive God’s loving offer of forgiveness and intimacy, to begin to learn how to love God and other people – and even ourselves – in quiet, and more caring ways. We discovered and shared ways to begin and continue the exciting adventure of transformation (see The Edge of Adventure.) We have spoken and consulted in Christian churches, seminaries, and in treatment centers and 12-step groups in many countries around the world.
During these fresh “new” years, Andrea and I have been wondering if perhaps there are others of you who may be interested in going on a new spiritual adventure with Jesus Christ and some of his recovering and grateful people. The purpose of this website is to invite you to join us on God’s Adventure for the 21st Century – either as beginners, long-time believers, someone who had left and would like to come back, or involved any kind of recovery – and step into a spiritual journey you might not have considered since you were a child.
Welcome! We are seeing experientially what might happen to us if together we really give living our faith a shot at this time in our lives!
Look over the books and audio materials – almost all of which were written to help people live out their own faith in their ordinary, everyday lives and relationships.
Love in our Lord,
Keith and Andrea Miller
Thanks, Keith Miller!
By: Jeanie Miley
Monday, July 20, 2009
When I was a college student, Keith Miller spoke at Baylor University, and what he said that day set me on a l journey that has been rich and meaningful, challenging and difficult, liberating and empowering. As soon as it was released I bought his book, The Taste of New Wine, and then I read everything else he wrote.
This past Saturday, Eileen Flynn wrote about him in the Austin American-Statesman.
If you go to this link, you can read what she wrote.
In her opening paragraph, Ms. Flynn expresses wonder that in seven years on the religious beat in Austin, she’s missed knowing Keith Miller. The good news is that she did meet him. She did write about him, and she did get it about who he is… Read the entire article…
At 82, Keith Miller’s perspective on faith is still fresh
By: Eileen Flynn
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Looking back, it’s hard to imagine how I spent seven years on the religion beat in Austin without encountering Keith Miller. Some of you might be shaking your heads and wondering the same thing.
For so many Christians in the past several decades — and not just in Austin but around the world — Miller offered a fresh perspective on Christian spirituality.
Somehow, though, I only learned about Miller a few months ago when he earned an honorary degree from the Seminary of the Southwest. Bob Kinney, communications director for the Episcopal seminary, sent along a copy of the citation that accompanied the degree. It began: “Passionate Christian, eclectic writer, marketplace apostle, dynamic public speaker and gifted counselor, you thrive on leading people to God.” Read the entire article…
Seminary of the Southwest Citation
May 12, 2009
J. Keith Miller, author of books such as The Taste of New Wine and A Hunger for Healing, was honored with the doctor of humane letters degree. “Passionate Christian, eclectic writer, marketplace apostle, dynamic public speaker and gifted counselor, you thrive on leading people to God,” read his citation. Miller wrote “the immensely popular The Taste of New Wine – that has sold two-and-a-half million copies and been translated into eleven languages,” the citation continues. “Since then you have written or co-authored another twenty-three books on topics ranging from Christian living, addiction/co-dependence and self-realization to spiritual formation, devotion and entrepreneurial business. While your writing and speaking are impressive, your ability to fully accept and love people – all people – is phenomenal. Authentically humble with bedrock honesty, you live out and model the Christian life everywhere with everyone. You truly care for and want to help all you come to know.” Read the entire article…
Sharing: A Journal of Christian Healing
Can The Twelve Steps Be Useful to Committed Christians Already Seeking To Be God’s People And To Do Gods Will?
By: J. Keith Miller
The Twelve Steps were written to deal with the addiction to alcohol. Later people with addictions to recreational and prescription drugs found freedom and a transforming relationship with God. Finally casualties from addictions to food, and then behaviors like sex, gambling, spending and unhealthy relationships were transformed through the Twelve Steps.
Science and psychotherapy were baffled. How could one non-invasive program deal with the physical and emotional dysfunction resulting from addiction to substances and activities as diverse as alcohol, food, spending and unhealthy relationships? The secret is that hidden within all these symptoms is a simple yet profoundly powerful spiritual disease that medical science and psychology have seldom been able to alleviate. The Twelve Steps provide a spiritual model for healing that has led Twelve-Step groups to become perhaps the fastest-growing spiritual movement in America today—including Christianity.
I believe this growth is occurring because the Twelve Steps bring transforming biblical principles of faith based on a personal commitment/sur¬render to God and to living a process that brings sufferers into a close and pervasive living relationship with God and a community of others on the same adventure freeing them to live a meaningful life seeking God’s will. For me personally, having studied the Bible more than fifty years while trying to live for the Lord of the scriptures, it is apparent that the “Higher Power” of the Twelve Steps has at least a strong family resemblance to the Father revealed in the life, death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I became familiar with these Steps through painful circumstances in my life and because someone very close to me joined a Twelve-Step group and was obviously being transformed. After writing several best-selling books, speaking internationally, and becoming almost totally absorbed in my work, my relationships began to suffered terribly. I became filled with anxiety, resentment, anger and exhaustion and behaved in a very self-centered immoral way. Eventually, in 1976, my wife and I were divorced. A large part of the church said, “Farewell and goodbye,” and disappeared from my life. And the thing I had feared most since I was a little boy had finally happened. I’d been rejected.
A few close friends held me as I wept and tried to sort out my life. Filled with shame and a deep sense of failure, I was frustrated and judgmental about the church for the rejection (that I deserved). But one morning when I was praying, a quiet voice said inside me, “Keith, quit blaming the Church for your sins. You’re the one who behaved sinfully and got the divorce. You deal with your own sin, and I’ll take care of My Church.”
And so I began. My spiritual search as well as my deteriorating personal relationships and some frightening stress-related heart symptoms led me to a treatment center for my compulsive and addictive behavior, and there I was advised to get into a Twelve-Step program. As the acid of my pain began to eat through the wall of my denial, I started to perceive my dishonesty with myself, my incredible self-centeredness, need for attention, and grandiosity.
I began to see that in this “secular” program, a bunch of hurting people that the church was not prepared to help found a spiritual way to God through some biblical principles, many of which the Church had, it appeared, largely neglected or eliminated. This path has not only brought me into a deeper and more realistic relationship with Christ than I had ever known, but also has turned out to provide more courage, serenity and peace than I’ve ever known, and is calming and healing my compulsive way of life and ministry.
I sense that there are many other Christians who know their lives and relationships are in trouble but don’t know how to change. So back to my original question: can these steps be useful to committed Christians—especially those who are not addicted to alcohol or other chemicals and who do not have family members involved in addictions? And even if we agreed that these steps would bring one closer to God and to doing God’s will, how would a Christian take the steps without a specific addiction on which to focus them?
An honest Christian with no clearly definable addiction usually finds it difficult, if not impossible, to recognize the need for the benefits of this Twelve-Step way of life. But of course without a strong motivation, usually involving pain, it is difficult for a Christian to pay the price to integrate any of the classic Christian spiritual ways that can lead to spiritual transformation. Actually even an alcoholic whose personal relationships, vocation and health are threatened has a difficult time admitting that he or she needs help.
But some Christians—even ordained ministers—have become aware of feeling spiritual and emotional pain, anxiety and confusion. They report to me that they are not happy and certainly not serene. The intimate relationships of some are already clouded by conflict and confusion, and/or they find that significant people in their lives can’t understand them or love them as they feel they should be loved. All attempts to change others or themselves have failed. Finally, resentment, anger, fear, shame, guilt, loneliness, feelings of low self-worth, and pain about their relationships—and about living generally—often feel “larger than life.” They may even have called God (Father, Son, and Spirit) in on the struggle to change those close to them or themselves. Increasing numbers of good Christian people are in this kind of pain, and they are realizing that they may not understand how to use the power of their spiritual resources to overcome this pain by themselves. I believe that these symptoms are indications of the same spiritual disease that underlies alcoholism and other addictions.
Medical science and psychology have been largely unable to deal with this spiritual malady because these difficulties often operate in a different level of reality. The Twelve-Step program is a lot more like making pickles than doing sums. You cannot analyze cucumbers or even sprinkle them with salt to make pickles. The cucumbers are transformed into pickles by soaking in the salt water. And for someone to experience transformation through the Twelve Steps, he or she must “soak” in the process and meetings of the Twelve-Step program. Reading or even memorizing the steps will not work. Over the months I began to absorb things I was unaware I was absorbing—the loving, non-judgmental acceptance of me even when I was angry or silent. And one day I became conscious that I’d become “a pickle,” a different kind of person permeated with a new sort of serenity and love, a different kind of humility and openness.
The Twelve-Step process is an experience of being changed by a loving, supportive God, and a community of caring, non-judgmental people who know what we need and help us through our pain to see our own selfish agendas, give them up and surrender to God.
Of course, some people never get on their feet after experiencing some of life’s tragedies. They remain bitter and don’t face themselves. All Twelve-Step stories are not happy endings in the usual sense. But for many, particularly those who are in enough pain to swallow pride and come for help, the pain of powerlessness becomes the doorway to a happy, joyous and free life of loving and spiritual growth. And sometimes during the past few years, even in the midst of “terminal” illnesses or other tragedies, I’ve seen in Twelve-Step people a kind of serenity, calmness and trust I’ve seldom seen before—anywhere.
Note: I strongly recommend to people whose spiritual practices are not working as they once did to pray about taking a look at the Twelve Steps. My wife Andrea and I have studied and written several books and a twelve-weeks DVD course for Christians without a clear addiction who would like to check out the Twelve Steps.
Excerpts from A Hunger for Healing: The Twelve Steps as a Classic Model for Christian Spiritual Growth, by J. Keith Miller (Harper/Collins). (Also available as a group course published on DVD by Formation Press, Austin, TX.)