Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Recently I started listening to a conference tape series called THE FRAGRANCE OF JUSTICE.

It's from a 1988 conference in Canada with John Wimber, David Ruis and Jackie Pullinger.

After listening to one of the Wimber sessions I came across the first Jackie Pullinger tape. Now all I'm listening to is her series.

She is one amazing woman.

You can listen to some of her sermons and messages here:

Briefly, she heard God call her to serve the poor in China after being saved for only 7 months.

After no missionary ministry would send her, she finally decided to go on her own, with no church covering or support, just about $100 in her pocket.

After twenty or so years there, she has seen prostitutes, heroin addicts and Triad kingpins transformed into followers of Jesus.


In her book, Chasing the Dragon, Jackie Pullinger tells of being called by God to Hong Kong to work amongst the prostitutes and drug addicts living in the notorious walled city. Though fearful for her own safety, daily she would try to make contact with people who lived in some of the worst conditions one could imagine.

But after six months little had been achieved and despair set in. She agonized about it for days. “If God has called me to be here why aren’t people responding?”

One morning she realized what was wrong. She’d been telling people that God loves them and that Jesus loves them and wants to forgive them but she’d not been loving them in any practical way. She needed to go and be as Jesus, with them.

The next three months she spent, “soaking herself in scripture and prayer - and being drenched by the Holy Spirit!”

Her new and very practical approach yielded a remarkable response. Providing food, shelter and healthcare, visiting prisons, speaking up for victims, these became the ingredients of her everyday life.

The situation was so transformed that even the drug barons watched out for her safety. She’s still there and so is the church that grew from her work but the Walled City isn’t. It was demolished ten years ago.

I think I want to compile a list of her best quotes and write an article for RELEVANT about her.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

MY NEW CHURCH by Keith Giles

Sometimes I want to start my own Church.

When I take a look at the Churches around me that cling to what is safe and normal, it makes me want to jump off the merry-go-round and find a few others who are sick of the spin and who long for something more.

I’ve actually taken the time to write out on paper what my Church would look like.

First of all, we’d be devoted to the poor. We’d do our best to take the Gospel of the Kingdom of God into the streets where we live and display the compassion and heart of Jesus to the poor, the broken and the forgotten.

I want a Church full of people who love God more than they love their comfort zones.
I want a Church of people who don’t just say yes to God, they actually go and do what He has already clearly commanded.

I want a Church where everyone is welcomed, accepted and truly loved just because of who they are.

I want my Church would take time to listen, not just to preach. My Church would work together with other Christians, regardless of their doctrine or practice, for the main goal of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus to the world.

My Church would not be concerned with buying a building or getting on the radio. It wouldn’t be driven to compare itself to other Churches based on numbers or size or ability.

My Church would be a safe place for anyone to come and hear about God, regardless of who they are, how they vote, or what their sexual orientation might be. In fact, anyone who wanted to come and hear the voice of God and receive the Grace and Mercy and Forgiveness of God would feel welcome, no matter what.

My Church wouldn’t allow people to come and be anonymous. It would be impossible for anyone to come and just blend in without being known, embraced and loved.

My Church would be a place where people could believe, become and belong without fear.

My Church would be committed to helping people actually follow Jesus in their actual lives. We would focus our sermons and our small groups on how to apply the Gospel to daily life, because if we can’t do that we should all go home.

My Church would put into practice the things it says it believes, every single day. Or at least it would die trying to.

Would you commit your time and energy to an organization that patterned itself after Jesus? Would you join a Church like this?

Well, the sad truth is, you can’t. Why? Because you already are that Church.

There is no other Church than the one we’ve got.

You and I are the people of God. We are the Church that He has assembled for these times. We are the Church called to make a difference in this day and to this culture.

We are the Church God has chosen to love others in a way that no one has ever seen before. We are the Church that God has entrusted to be His ambassadors to the world.

In the four walls on Sunday, and outside the four walls the rest of the week, we are the Church. At home, in line at the Grocery store, at work, at school, in fact, everywhere you are, there you will find that Church.

A.W. Tozer put it best when he said, “We must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is a personal one. Any step forward in the Church must begin with the individual.” (From “The Knowledge Of The Holy”; pg.114.)

We are the Church. The only Church the world will ever know.

So, now, let’s go and be the church we dream of.

[Keith Giles is one of the world's greatest enigmas. Ruggedly handsome yet surprisingly gentle and compassionate with small animals, Keith actually has a very weak grasp of reality and often talks to himself in the bathroom mirror. He's currently writing his own story about his time in the wilderness, serving as a Pastor at The River Church in Tustin, California, and putting together a few subversive projects of his own in his spare time. You can see one of them here at http://subversive1.blogspot.com/]


Hello. My name is Keith Giles and I am a Christian activist.

In fact, for me, there’s no such thing as any other kind of Christian.

To be a Christian is to be an activist.

In what way could someone call themselves a follower of Jesus and be anything other than someone who brings change in their wake? How else is a person who names the name of Christ to act?

To be a follower of Jesus is to be one who sees things as they are and asks, “How can the Kingdom of God break in and make things better?”

One of my favorite Christian leaders is Mike Pilavachi, the founder of Soul Survivor. He has a saying I love that goes, “God is a god of hate. He’s also a god of love. The one thing God is not is indifferent.”

Want to know what I hate? It’s Christian Radio. I hate how it proclaims a version of Jesus who is constantly “safe”. Was Jesus really safe? Should we be safe?

John Fischer says that, “Faith is only necessary for a more dangerous life” and I couldn’t agree with him more.

Another of my heroes, Jim Wallis, the founder of Sojourners Magazine and the author of “God’s Politics” says that Christians are called, not only to serve and love the poor, but to go beyond writing checks from the safety of our pews and even beyond slopping soup in the rescue missions, to bring real, lasting deliverance and hope to the poor of the world.

“You can’t keep pulling bodies out of the river,” says Wallis, “Without sending someone up stream to find out who is throwing them into the river.”

One of my other heroes is Jackie Pullinger who gave up her life to serve the poorest of the poor in the walled city of Hong Kong. She says, “The lie is that the way of the cross is the hard way. The lie is that it will kill you. The Truth is, in this way you’ll find life. In this way, you’ll know Him. In this way, you’ll taste of Grace. To come and die for Christ is an invitation, it’s not a sentence.”

I don’t have any tattoos but if I did it would probably read, “Remember the Poor” just like the one that David Ruis wears on his arm. I’d love to have a permanent reminder on my skin that recalled the “One thing” that Peter and James required of the Apostle Paul before he was sent out on his first missionary journey in the book of Galatians. “All that they asked was that we remember the poor,” says Paul, “The one thing I was thrilled to do.”

It would seem that the kind of Christians God is looking for are the ones who are incapable of walking past the poor without doing something. When they see someone hungry, they give them food. When they see someone thirsty, they give them a cold cup of water. When they see someone who is lonely, they stop and spend a few hours with them. “For whatever you’ve done for one of the least of these,” says Jesus, our example and teacher, “You’ve done it unto me.”

My two favorite t-shirts say, “You have one life. Do something.” and “Actions Speak Louder”.

One of my favorite movies is “Fight Club”. One tells the story of a mixed-up young man trapped in this wayward American culture who is desperately searching for meaning and purpose and real, authentic life. He says things like, “What you own ends up owning you” and leading a small army of devoted followers to change the world by blowing it up. I always watch that film and wonder what it would have been like if someone could have told that man about Jesus.

My favorite books of the Bible are James and the first book of John. James I love because he says things like, “Faith without works is dead”, and First John I love because he says things like, “If anyone claims to be in Him, they must walk as Jesus did.”

Jesus was a radical. He raised up a small army of revolutionaries with the sole “raison d’etre” of changing the world and turning it upside down. In their wake, the followers of Jesus left changed governments, changed religious systems, and changed hearts and minds.

If the early church had simply existed, if it had only found a way to blend in with the culture around it and become safe and acceptable to the populace, you and I might not ever have heard of a person by the name of Jesus of Nazareth who, about 2000 years ago, gave his life to change the world, one person at a time.

The church today needs to become more like its founder. It needs to be driven to press forward, out of its comfort zone, to get its hands dirty, to move in such a way that our words line up with our actions.

To do any less is settle.

Who wants to belong to a predictable movement? Who wants to surrender their life for something ordinary and unremarkable?

Many of us are willing, we say, to die for Christ. The question is, are we willing to live for Christ?

Hello. My name is Keith Giles. I am a Christian activist. What other kind of Christian is there?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Parabolic Journal

A few years ago I got inspired to do something outside the box and a little beyond my reach.

I was inspired by the 1000Journals.com project and wanted to do an experiment in subversive communication.

My friend and creative catalyst, Scott Laumann, had inspired me to go beyond just talking and dreaming about things and actually putting things into action.

So...with the help of brother, and web-slave, Lito Bujanda-Moore, I put together a website called

Things started out with just one journal and a personal invitation to several of my creative friends, who were also followers of Jesus, to take a turn sharing their thoughts and creative expressions of faith inside a blank journal that would be mailed to them.

After the first journal was launched and several email discussions followed among several of the participants, it was decided to open this journal up to the free world.

So, we allowed people to email us and request to be put on the list to receive a journal of their own.

Very quickly the Parabolic Journal grew into about nine journals, a "random" journal (which travels of its own free will from person to person), a digital journal (where people can simply email us jpgs of their virtual pages and have them posted online), and an international journal for those outside the continental United States.

Over the last few years I've had some great interactions with people, just everyday people, who have signed up and created pages for this journal out of their despair, loneliness, fear, hope and determination to survive.

A fire about six months ago destroyed the master list of participants, unfortunately, and I've not been able to reconstruct the actual list just yet.

For now, the site continues to display the pages we've received so far, and new participants sign up daily to be added to the list.

It's one of those projects where my plan was to throw something out there and allow the Holy Spirit (yeah, Him) to take control of who and where the subversive Truth would be sent.

Time will tell how "successful" the project was or is.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


JUDGE NOT by Keith Giles

A while back I received an email from someone that caused me to take a hard look at my own self-righteousness.

This person had a moral failure that involved adultery, split up a best friend’s marriage, and totally destroyed people who were close to me.

At the time, I had traversed this minefield by putting on a loving face to all parties, regardless of their fault or sense of remorse. I had done my best to be loving and forgiving, as I suspected Jesus would have been.

However, over time my relationship with this person faded away, mostly because I began to feel uncomfortable around this person and the ongoing sin in their life.

Fast-forward about five years. Now I was receiving casual email from this person as if nothing had ever happened. I felt myself judging this person’s actions and even their heart as the emotions came flooding back again.

As I sat and contemplated how to react to this, I believe the Holy Spirit revealed something to me. I was reminded of what it was like when I first came to California from Texas. I had no friends. I knew absolutely no one. My co-workers were nice, but at the end of the day they all went home to their families and I went home to an empty apartment to sleep on a sleeping bag on the carpet all alone.

This same person who I was now judging had been the only person to invite me over for dinner with their family. In fact, not only did they feed me and hang out with me, they actually loved me. I became part of their family.

Perhaps that was why this person’s betrayal felt so painful to me. I don’t know.

What I do know is that this person had once been the only person to show me the love of Christ at one of the most lonely and desperate times of my life. Yet, here I was standing in judgment of their sin.

Is this the place God wants me to be? Didn’t Jesus call us to forgive? When confronted with the woman caught in the act of adultery, didn’t Jesus offer her grace and mercy?

After that, I started to think about all the really terrible sins that I had committed in my life. Sure, none of them involved adultery or fornication, but there were plenty of instances where the sin was very ugly, and very real. How grateful I was that God had not only forgiven me of those things completely, but that He had somehow forgotten them in the sea of forgetfulness.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” – Matthew 7:1-5

Still, I am guilty, I think, of judging others in many other, less obvious ways.

For example, if I were asked by my unbelieving neighbor how I was feeling, I might tell him I was doing ok, even if I knew that my prayer life was kinda dry at the moment and I was struggling over a few temptations in my life. I would hold back from sharing those “Spiritual” things with him because I have judged that he is “Unsaved” and therefore “Unspiritual”.

If my good Christian friend were to ask me the same question, I would probably share with him about my struggles with prayer time or temptation. Why? Because I have judged that he is “Saved” and therefore that he is “Spiritual”.

But who am I to judge who is “Saved” or “Unsaved”? According to Scripture, there is but one Judge of Men, and here’s a hint…it ain’t me or you.
It’s God Almighty.

When we judge people as being “Saved” or “Unsaved” and we then proceed to treat them differently according to that judgment, I believe we’re subverting the Gospel itself.

Just for a second imagine what would happen in the above example if I were to talk to my “Unsaved” neighbor openly about my spiritual struggles in an equally natural way as I would with my “Saved” brother? Wouldn’t that be an interesting way to introduce Jesus into that conversation? How could that be a bad thing?

Not only are we not supposed to judge others, we’re pretty bad at it.

Let’s say I had one neighbor on my left who frequently got arrested for various crimes every other week? Suppose that guy hung around with other criminals? What if he were finally arrested and sentenced to death for his crimes?

I’d probably conclude that guy was a “sinner” and that he got what he deserved for living such an ungodly life.

Now let’s say I had another neighbor on my right who went to church every time the doors were opened. He was a leader in the church and the community recognized him as an honest, godly man?

I’d probably conclude that he was “saved” and that he would certainly make it to heaven before I did.

Now, according to Scripture I’d be dead wrong.

The neighbor on my left corresponds to the thief on the cross. That “sinner” who lived a life of total rebellion and was executed for his crimes actually had the unbelievable good fortune to be put to death on the same day as the very Son of the Living God and was forgiven and welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven with open arms.

The “good” neighbor on my right corresponds with the “Rich Young Ruler” who approached Jesus asking what he must do to inherit Eternal Life. Jesus gave him one thing to do, “Sell all that you have and give it to the poor and follow me,” and the guy turned around and walked away from Jesus. As far as we know, he never made it into the Kingdom.

Either way, the point is that we are not the judge of the eternal destiny of men and women. Even if someone declares that they love Jesus with all their heart, we do not “know” for certain either way, and that’s totally ok.

I think what I’m getting at is that we’re not called to treat people one way if we deem them to be “Saved” and to treat people another way if we conclude that they are “Lost”.

Instead, why don’t we love everyone just the same, no matter what they’ve done or how they appear on the outside.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. – Luke 6:30-35

By Keith Giles