Wednesday, February 25, 2015

EPISODE 3: Dan Notti and Keith Giles Podcast: Doctrine and Ekklesia: Where Do They Fit?


In our third Skype Podcast, Dan and Keith discuss what place Doctrine and Teaching hold in the Ekklesia. 

We also touch on issues like homosexuality, fornication, and church discipline, as well as personal struggles with finding balance in our own christian fellowship with regard to teaching, doctrine, disagreements and how to love one another as Jesus taught us.

NOTE: This is an audio-only recording.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

God Will Not Cooperate



GOD WILL NOT COOPERATE 
(It's His World, We Just Get To Live In It)


After over thirty years of being a Christian I have learned a few valuable lessons. This is probably one of the most crucial ones; God will not cooperate.

If you want to know what frustration is, try to bargain or reason with God. Want to know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.

Sometimes we get the idea that we can change God's mind about something. There are even a few scriptural accounts where it appears that Moses and Abraham convince God to go along with their plans. The problem with this is that you cannot negotiate with someone who already knows the end from the beginning and knows your thoughts before you speak. Want to know what is really happening in those passages? It's God demonstrating that He knows things always go better with us if we think it was our idea.

Once in a while you will see a bumper sticker that says, "God Is My Co-Pilot". I always pray for people who have that on their car because if you think God is about to sit quietly in the passenger seat while you drive your life outside of His will you are either sadly mistaken or you are in the wrong car. Soon enough you will discover that things go so much smoother when you scoot over and allow God to be the Pilot.

We all know the passage where Jacob wrestles with God and refuses to let go until God blesses him. The problem with that is God had already promised to bless Jacob before he was even born. Jacob didn't need to wrestle the blessing out of God's hand, but God allowed him to wrestle anyway. Truth is, God loves to wrestle. I think what we need to consider is, what will we do with God AFTER he gives us that blessing we wrestled from Him? Will we let go of Him? Often, we do exactly that. We vow to not let go of God until He blesses us, and then after He blesses us, we let go of Him. Bad idea.

I firmly believe that God will drop trouble into our lives just to hear our voice after a long silence. 

Save yourself a lot of trouble and just surrender now. God will have His way...(just ask Job or Jonah)...and His way, believe it or not, is much better than all of your beautiful plans and dreams.

Die to yourself daily and things will go SO much better in your life. Practice daily saying, "I Give Up!" and watch God do amazing things with your life. His will, His Kingdom, will come to your life, to your house, to your job, and things will be like Heaven...where His will is always done without question or gripe or complaint.

I recently discovered a phrase used by the early Church Fathers that says, "Conversatio Morem!". It translates to "Constant Conversion!" which honestly is what we all need to embrace. We all need a daily, constant surrender to Jesus in order to fully walk in The Kingdom of God.

"Man makes his plans but God orders his steps."
-Proverbs 16:9

Life in the Kingdom begins with surrender. The sooner you can practice this in your actual life, the sooner you can begin to live in the Kingdom of God, where His perfect will is always done.

God will not cooperate.

-kg

NOTE: This article originally appeared on the weekly [Subversive Underground] e-newsletter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

EPISODE 2: Dan Notti and Keith Giles - "Leadership"


Leadership. Is there a more important topic in the American Church today than leadership?

Keith and Dan talk about what constitutes true leadership as Jesus revealed it, and explore some practical ways that leaders can operate in a simple, organic church to elevate and empower others.


Is It Really All About Jesus?





THE BLOGALOGUE SERIES: "Encountering Jesus: Inside and Outside the Meeting"

Is It Really All About Jesus?

For me, the essence of an Organic Church is centered around Jesus. Everything we do should be designed to help us hear Him, experience Him, worship Him, love Him, serve Him, and draw nearer to Him. Anything that prevents that from happening should be eliminated from our lives, and from our time together as a Body.

If I could re-name the movement, I’d call it “Jesus Ekklesia” because, for me, that’s closer to what it’s all about: It’s for Jesus, by Jesus and of Jesus. With Jesus at the Center, Jesus at the top, and Jesus surrounding us, the Ekklesia is a Jesus-centric organism that won’t operate properly apart from Jesus.

In fact, the Church itself is nothing apart from Christ. The Apostle Paul calls it a Profound Mystery. Christ and the Church are One – like a living person who has a head and a body and organs that all work together to sustain life. We are in Christ and He is in us, and we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit where Christ lives, and He is the One in whom we live and move and have our being. So, we are in Christ and He is in us, and we are in the Father.

Apart from Jesus we can do nothing. Yet, if we remain in Him and He remains in us then we will bear much fruit.

Is it possible to have a meeting without Jesus? Unfortunately, yes. It’s also possible to have a wonderful meeting “about Jesus” where people get together to sing about Him, talk about Him and study Him – much in the same way a group of people might study any other topic of discussion.

But rather than have a meeting “about Jesus”, or a meeting “without Jesus”, our aim and purpose should always be to have a meeting “WITH Jesus.” He is the One we want to hear from. He is the One we want to touch, and to see and to experience.

Keep in mind, it’s possible to know stuff about someone without actually knowing the person. For example, I could know all sorts of trivia about Kobe Bryant, but if he walked in the room he wouldn’t say, “Hello Keith!” because I don’t actually know Kobe Bryant. I only know stuff about him.

The same is true for Christianity. We can know lots of stuff about Jesus, but that does not mean that we actually know Jesus in an intimate, relational way.

But how do we do that? How do we take hold of Christ – or allow Him to take hold of us?

I mean, if I’m not connecting with the actual Jesus in my private life, then I’m certainly not going to be able to connect with Him in a room full of people.

And, of course, if I’m in a room full of people who are also not in connection with the actual person of Jesus, then even if I am connected to Him, their limited connection to Him will probably make it impossible for all of us to encounter Him together.

How do we connect with Jesus as individuals? How do individual Christians encounter Jesus when they come together as a Church?

Those are the big questions, aren’t they?

I’ll do my best to answer both of those questions.

INDIVIDUAL CONNECTIONS TO CHRIST.

One of the most important things Jesus ever said about the Christian life was this: “Abide in me and I will abide in you. Apart from me you can do nothing.”

So, our individual connection to Jesus begins with living in Him. Not just placing our faith in Him, or trusting in Him for salvation, but actually living and breathing in Christ daily.

Or, to put it another way, the Christian life is about allowing Jesus to come and live and breathe in you every moment of every day.

Does that sound like a paradox? Good.

Imagine an empty water bottle with the lid screwed on tight. It’s full of air. Now throw it into the ocean. It’s surrounded by water, but on the inside it’s still empty and dry. That’s sort of like what it can be like for Christians who find themselves surrounded by Christian “things” and ideas, or even in a gathering of other Christians, but on the inside they are still empty and dry.

Even if you were to submerge that bottle deep into the center of the ocean, it would be wet on the outside, but dry on the inside. What needs to happen is for the bottle to be opened up so that the ocean can come flooding inside.

Jesus is the Ocean. We are the bottle. We can get close to Him and still not let Him inside. Total surrender is required for transformation to begin.
And I say, “to begin” because this is a process not a onetime event.

We allow the process to begin when we surrender our lives to Jesus, die to everything that is our self, and open our hearts up to receive His life, and His heart, and His presence.

We do not ask Jesus into our life, which is empty and dry and weak, but instead we respond to Jesus as He invites us into His life which is pure and eternal and abundant.

The Christian life is cultivated and nurtured and celebrated daily. We spend time with Jesus. We talk to Him the way we talk to our closest friend. We ask Him daily for help as we put His words into practice. We lean on Him for wisdom. We turn to Him for comfort. We look to Him for everything.

Keep in mind that practicing the presence of God like this will likely impact your behavior. It will facilitate the transformational power of the Holy Spirit as you open yourself up more and more to His command and control.

Any Christian who is consumed by this sort of attitude and activity can’t help but experience more of Jesus in their daily life. Now just imagine what would happen if a dozen or so other Christians who were also practicing this sort of faith were to get together for a meeting with Jesus as their functional head?

That’s what Organic Church is all about.

CORPORATE CONNECTIONS TO CHRIST.
When followers of Jesus are accustomed to encountering Jesus like this seven days a week, it’s nothing out of the ordinary to put something very similar into practice when they gather with others who are familiar with the concept.

The New Testament describes for us in some detail what a gathering of the Body of Christ should look like. In 1 Corinthians 12 through 14, Paul talks about the Church using the metaphor of a body where the head (which is Christ) controls every member of his body (the members of the church) as they operate together in ways that are various but necessary to the overall health of the entire organism.

This means that a church is really only “the Body of Christ” if it is submitted fully to the Head. If any church is not operating so that Christ alone is the functional leader – and everyone in the church is operating in their gifting as directed by the Holy Spirit – then that church is not actually behaving like a Body. It might be acting like a corporate entity, a 501(c)3, a business, or a bible study, but it’s not a Body.

When a group of practicing Christian disciples gather together under Christ in order to see Him and hear Him and encounter Him, the chances of doing so increase exponentially.

Obviously, if Christians are not practicing a daily surrender to Christ in their personal lives, and if they are not gathering with other Christians who are encountering Jesus in this way, and if when they gather together they don’t all work together to experience Jesus in their midst as their functional head…then there’s a very, very good chance that they won’t.

Having said that, let me admit something here: It doesn’t always come together for us either.

Sometimes we realize that we’ve not been walking as close to Jesus as we should. Sometimes we get together and we discover that most of us have neglected to seek His face during the week – hey, it happens. We’re all human. We get distracted. We get busy. We fall back into old habits and formulas.

At other times we find that one person in the group isn’t as focused on seeking Him as the rest of us are. In those cases we have grace. We wait for them. We ask how they’re doing. We minister to them in love.

We don’t compare ourselves to them as if we are more holy than they are. Mostly because we remember that we ourselves are prone to the same failures and weaknesses.

Still at other times we can all be in the right place at the right time and with the same intention and yet we don’t experience the power and presence of Jesus the way we hoped we might.

Again, that’s ok. Our faith isn’t in an experience. Our faith and our hope is in a person. We trust Him and we wait for Him. If He decides to move among us, then we rejoice and we receive. If He decides to remain silent, then we continue to wait on Him.

I think sometimes Jesus changes things up simply to keep us from relying on formulas. People love formulas. But when we have a formula we don’t need God.

Church isn’t about a formula, it is (once again) about a person. Jesus is a person and so we learn to accommodate Him and to defer to Him and to relate to Him as a person, not as a formula.

A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE
A few weeks ago our little group experienced the Headship of Christ and it was really wonderful.
After our singing time, one of our sisters shared about a message she had seen on someone’s t-shirt at the grocery store the previous week. It said “Live what you love” and that little phrase stuck with her all week. She began to meditate on how we should live our lives for Jesus and follow Him because He is the One we love.

After that, another sister shared two verses from the New Testament about love and talked about how the Lord had revealed more of His love to her that week.

Then I jumped in because that morning I had been reading through 1 John which is all about love and I read a few specific verses from that book and shared my perspective on how important it is that we learn to love one another.

Then one of our brothers shared what God had been showing him last week as he read through the book of Hosea. After that another brother shared what God had been showing him as he was reading a book about the prophet Hosea, which dove-tailed beautifully into what everyone else was already sharing.

We ended by praying for one of our other sisters who shared a little from her heart about needing to be reminded of the love of God for her – which is what we had all been talking about all morning long anyway!

As we laid hands on her, and read scriptures over her, and even sang songs over her of God’s amazing and astounding love for her, everyone was edified and blessed and touched by the Lord’s tender presence with us.

That was an incredible morning with the saints! And I wish I could tell you that it happens like that every single week, but it doesn’t.

The good news is that it’s starting to happen more and more often as we all begin to catch a vision for what the Lord intends for us as individuals and as a corporate Body of believers.


-kg

**
NOTE: This blog is part of a Blogalogue Series of posts from Neil Cole, Richard Jacobson, Dan Herford, Jon Zens and myself.

The Topic: Encountering Jesus: Inside and Outside the Church

The Schedule:


Keith Giles: Week of Feb. 16
Dan Herford: Week of Feb 23
Neil Cole: Week of March 2
Jon Zens: Week of March 9
Video Skype Roundtable discussion: Saturday March 14 or Sunday March 15



Monday, February 16, 2015

ARE THE NT DOCUMENTS RELIABLE?



With so many people casting doubt on the veracity of the New Testament documents, I submit this excellent bit of research from Dr. Peter Williams which goes into astounding detail about just how incredibly reliable the Gospels really are and how simple details - such as names and places - help to solidify their claims.

This is a "Must Watch" video clip.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Untamed Christianity



Our faith defies the status quo.
Our Savior calls for a complete revolution of the human heart. 
Our Gospel is designed to ignite a total regime change within the soul of every living person.

Our Messiah was executed for defying the Empire - both the Church and the State.
He encouraged his followers to lay down their lives and die for Him - not as suicidal martyrs, but as radical agents of love who would rather die than resort to hatred or violence.

The majority of our Scriptures were written by a former terrorist who helped to imprison and murder numerous disciples of Christ.
He was radically transformed by a supernatural encounter with our Jesus and that day became an ambassador of the Prince of Peace.

After that day he left his violence behind and instead embraced the way of the cross, seeking not to destroy his enemies, but to love them and to share in the sufferings of Christ as he boasted all the more in his own weakness.

Many of those early disciples and saints were led like lambs to the slaughter, much like our Lord. By the hundreds they submitted to the governing authorities and were burned, boiled and skinned alive, beheaded, and even crucified upside down, never once reaching out to do violence to their oppressors, but declaring their love for Jesus and even praying for those who put them to death.

These subversive missionaries of light understood that their struggle was not against flesh and blood. They knew that the weapons of their warfare were not of this world, but spiritual, and far more powerful - able to transform hearts and minds alike.

They knew that they were sent as lambs and doves, not wolves and serpents, into a world dominated by power and lust. Yet they refused to participate in the things that make for war or death. 

Instead, they devoted themselves to the way of life, and light, and peace, and mercy, and most of all to love.

Oh, blood was shed, to be sure. But the blood that was shed was their own. 

What happened to those Christians? Where did those sorts of believers in the message of Christ go?

Why, today, is it so rare to find anyone who claims the name "Christian" and still embraces the Gospel of Christ?

Instead of resisting the Empire, many Christians today embrace it, salute it, pledge their allegiance to it, and even kill others to protect the honor of their Empire.

Instead of seeing everyone alive as someone Christ loved dearly enough to die for, many of them openly express their hate for people of other faiths, and make no attempt to veil their contempt for those who oppose them, or their Nation, or even their Political ideology.

Instead of laying down their lives and their rights so that those who are without Christ might see a living example of His radical love, many who claim to follow Jesus attempt to cut people off from God's grace simply because they are "sinners"; forgetting that Jesus was a friend of sinners and spent most of his time among them in fellowship.

Many Christians today are deeply and profoundly offended by the idea that Jesus loves terrorists, and homosexuals, and communists, and transgender people, and those who simply think differently than they do about God, or Politics, or Theology.

If those early Christians were like the people who wear His Name today, they would have tortured or killed someone like Saul of Tarsus before he ever had an opportunity to be changed, or to write most of our New Testament.

I'm so glad they weren't like us. I just wish that we were more like them.
 
The truth is, we cannot say we love God if we do not love others. 
That means, I love God as much as I love the poor.
I love God as much as I love the homosexual.
I love God as much as I love my enemy.

What if, at the final judgment, Jesus identified you as a sheep or a goat based on how well you had loved your enemy?

Is there any reason to think that He won't? He warns us that on that day He will divide us by groups into those who showed mercy and love to the outcast, and those who did not.

Jesus also said that not everyone who called him "Lord", would enter His Kingdom. Only those who do what He said to do. 

Loving our enemies is one of the clearest and most unmistakable commands Jesus gave us.

"Why do you call me ‘Lord, lord’ and do not do what I say?"

Are we so sure that our attitudes about others are justified? Are we certain that Jesus won't expect us to have embraced His call to love others as He has loved us?

The Gospel of the Kingdom is simply about submission to Christ as Lord. If He is truly Lord, then we can love as He commanded and not worry about the outcomes. 

It's time we untamed our Christianity. 

Let us return to a wild, unbridled pursuit of the radical Messiah who challenged us to live outside our comfort zones.

Let us defy the status quo and begin to love with more audacity and abandonment than anyone would consider feasible.

Let us resolve to hate no one - to condemn no one - to shame no one.

Let us take up our crosses, set our eyes on the One who would rather die than live without us, and follow in His footsteps towards a Kingdom that is already in the making.

"Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15) 




Sunday, February 08, 2015

Thursday, February 05, 2015

INTERVIEW: Brandon Chase and Keith Giles talk about "Love, Fear and Nonviolence"


Brandon Chase interviewed me on his Real Life Radio podcast. This is the raw video of the conversation we had together about the barriers that keep many Christians from fully embracing Jesus' message of radical love and nonviolence - Nationalism, Old Covenant Christianity, and Fear (which casts out Perfect Love).


What's Love Got To Do With It?



With apologies to Tina Turner, I'd like to explore the concept of love and how it relates to the Christian faith.

Jesus makes it clear that love is a high priority in His Kingdom.

The Greatest Commandment? To love God.
The Second Greatest Commandment? To love our neighbor as ourselves.
The Mark of Genuine Faith? They will know we are Christians by our love.
How do we know that we are children of God? When we love even our enemies.
What's greater than hope and faith? Love is greater.
What Spirit has God given us? A spirit of love and of power and a sound mind.
What is so great that is surpasses knowledge? The love of Christ.
What is the first fruit of the Spirit? Love.
How do we overcome evil? With love.
What is the nature of our obedience to Jesus? Love.
What hopes all things, believes all things and endures all things? Love.
Out of the 58 "One Anothers" in the New Testament what do more than half of them say? "Love one another".

Love is a big deal for those who are following Jesus.

Without love, we are nothing.

I've always wondered why the greatest heresy in the Christian church isn't a failure to love extravagantly as Jesus commanded and as the Apostles urged us to do more than 25 times in the New Testament.

Love is our mantra. Love is our theme. Love is our tattoo.

Let love reign.

-kg