Thursday, February 23, 2006


Hey everyone, be sure to go and check out the awesome website for ENGAGE that my buddy Lito did in about 5 hours time.

WITH DAVID RUIS and others

EARLY-BIRD Tickets are just $15 while they last, and then they go up to $25, so hurry!



TWO OR MORE by Keith Giles

Last Thursday Wendy and I attended a Teen Challenge Graduation Ceremony in Santa Ana.

We arrived early, got to meet a few people, and sat back as the flurry of activity took place around us while the team was setting up for the celebration.

They set up tables, chairs, and laid out food and drinks for everyone to share after the ceremony. They practiced their worship songs and ran off copies of the program and lyric sheets for all who would soon arrive.

Finally the guests were all congregating around the makeshift sanctuary, which was a converted two car garage, complete with the large door which remained raised so that people could make their way inside and find a seat.

We opened with prayer and a few wonderful songs of worship, lead by the Director of Teen Challenge himself, Ron Brown, on the piano. His gospel-themed style of piano and singing made us all feel that we were at a Sunday Morning church service, rather than in a converted garage in the poor side of Santa Ana.

After the worship time, Ron got up and introduced me. I gave a short message on The Power Of Weakness, looking at King David, Samson and Gideon as examples of how God looks for and seeks out the most ordinary and simple of people to accomplish His amazing work on Earth.

The most surprising miracle was that I managed somehow to deliver the message in exactly 20 minutes. No one was more stunned than I was.

Next came the real blessing. The Graduates of the 4 month program were to be honored for completing their initial stages of sobriety. One by one they were brought up to the front and given a blessing and a word of encouragement by their counselors for the hard work they had done in successfully completing the program.

Everyone was in tears by the end.

But what God most dearly blessed us with on this day was something very simple and sweet.

The good people at Teen Challenge had spent all this time and energy putting on this Ceremony, and about 50 people went out of their way to drive out and attend this graduation service, for just two men.

That's right. Only two men graduated this day from the 4 month program.

On the drive home, Wendy and I were marveling that this ministry would have such an amazing heart to stage such an event in order to honor just two people.

"Would we do that?" Wendy asked out loud in the car.

I wondered that also.

And then God did something kind of sneaky.

That night, as we prepared our dish for our Thursday night house church meeting, only two people were there. I was very disappointed by this. We held hands to pray and bless our food and I held back a sadness in my heart at my apparent failure to attract and minister to more than two people, one of whom was my sister-in-law.

We ate our dinner together, we talked about life, we shared a bit. But inside I was squirming. I felt like going into my bedroom and hiding away.

Then, one other person showed up.

Still, I felt embarrased. Now this person realized what everyone must already know, that I was a failure. Our house church was a failure. Maybe we really were foolish to think that this sort of thing would ever fly in Orange County?

We finished dinner and sat down to share together what God had been speaking to us this week. As we shared, another person showed up.

I felt a little better. At least now we had four people, and including my family that made eight. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all?

That was when Wendy shared with the rest of us how blessed she was at this morning's Teen Challenge ceremony. How blessed she was that they would do for only two people what most of us would only do for ten or twenty.

That's when the Holy Spirit kicked me in the teeth.

"Would you do that?"

Well...would I?

Suddenly the lights came on. I realized that God had deliberately used this morning's experience at Teen Challenge to show me how to operate in the Kingdom.

Even God Himself, the Creator of the Universe, isn't too important or busy to show up for two people. "Where two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them." Why should I treat people any differently?

Now I realize that I was more concerned about my own reputation than I was about honoring and serving the people of God.

I wanted those who have mocked us and put us down for taking this step into the house church model to hear about a "successful" and "growing" meeting in our home. Even though personally I do not equate bigness with success, and I don't personally believe that "growth" equals "depth", I know that those who judge us and criticize us really do draw those parrallels, and I wanted to look good in their eyes.

So, I had to repent. And I do this now, in full view of all men. I repent of my own pride. I repent for wanting to please men rather than to please God. I repent for playing along with those who say that large gatherings equal success and continual growth equals spiritual maturity.

Tonight, our house church meets again in our home.

Whether we have one, or two, or even if our family is the only one in attendance. We will have church. We will invite the Holy Spirit. We will worship God and we will read the Scriptures together and take strength from God's Word and His prescence with us.

I remind myself again, "We are the Church. Wherever we are, there is the Church. Whatever we are doing, this is what the Church is doing."

I repent.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Small Requests

Hey guys,

Just wanted to ask for a prayer from you about a message I'll be giving tomorrow morning (Thursday) at 9am.

I'm speaking a Teen Challenge graduation ceremony in Santa Ana, California. This is a class of students who have graduated from their 90 day addiction recovery program.

Pray for me, please, that God would speak through me to encourage these guys and gals. Pray that God would bless them and that I would share only what is on God's heart for them.


I've got 2 new articles online right now.

BBQ WAFFLES is online now at SEED STORIES:


Go check'em out!



Monday, February 13, 2006


(Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone)
With David Ruis and others.

Hey guys, we're taking registrations now for the Soul Survivor ENGAGE conference on April 22nd now.

The basic info is up now:

The first 20 people who register can get in for just $15 each!

After that it's just $25 per person.

The theme of the event is "Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone" and this will be a one-day Saturday conference to explore the Biblical connection between Worship and Justice.

Our main host is David Ruis, and this other guy Keith Giles...some of you may know him.

The conference will also feature interactive artistic elements, workshops, and a 2 hour "Worship Service" where we let our Worship be our Service to the poor in the community.

For those brave enough, we're offering a "Missionary Challenge" track where people can sign up to go on a "Mission" into the culture to engage the poor, BEFORE the event even begins! Those "Missionaries" will then have a "Debrief Session" at the event where they can share their experiences and testimonies with each other.

Hope you can all make it out!


Monday, February 06, 2006


Poverty: The Relationship Factor by Keith Giles

One thing I’ve had to learn about working with the poor is that it’s not about “fixing them”, instead, it’s more about the relationship.

When I first began working in the motel over in Santa Ana, my vision was grand. We were going to start regular Bible Studies, share meals, worship together and see powerful conversions, healings, deliverance and eventually convert the entire motel into a satellite service of our own Church.

God had other plans.

Instead, as we began to host monthly carnivals for the children of the motel, God started high-lighting one particular family to me. We were involved with serving several families at this motel, but one in particular stood out in our hearts and minds, as if God had put a spotlight on them for us and said, “Love these above all”.

So, we started to intentionally befriend his family. I took time to drive Mike all around Orange County so he could find an apartment through the Section 8 program for those who need housing assistance. We prayed together, searched the internet together, drove all over the county, looked at apartments together, filled out applications, met with managers, and the usual stuff, for several weeks. All for nothing.

Mike’s frustration was my own. We kept praying. We had them over for lunch after church. We watched movies together. We befriended them.

Soon I began to realize that this was really the whole point of this Compassion Ministry. It was not about the program, or the activity, or the resources we could offer these families as much as it was about really allowing their lives to intertwine with our own lives.

As this began to occur, I realized that it was I who was being changed, healed, and blessed.

That’s the paradox of this ministry. No matter how much food we give away, no matter how much resource or blessing we give, I always walk away feeling guilty. I used to wonder about that. I used to think it was because we didn’t do enough. Even though I knew in my mind that this wasn’t true, that we had actually brought a significant material blessing, something still felt “unequal” in the transaction for me.

That’s when I figured out that it was because we were taking away a blessing that was always greater, in the Spirit, than anything we could ever hope to provide out of our own material resources.

We’re the ones who got blessed.

And that’s why I think God said that “..the poor you will always have with you”, because He knew that we needed them. We have so much we can learn from them, and there’s so much we can’t ever get about the Kingdom without interaction with the poor.

So far, what I’ve learned is the true meaning of courage, of sharing, and of love.

Want to know what courage is? It’s a man who suffers the indignity of raising a family in a one-room motel, full of prostitutes, drug dealers and the mentally ill, and who stands by his wife and children with his head held high.

Want to know what sharing is? It’s a seventy year old woman with an infection in her leg who can’t afford to buy groceries, or insurance, who gives away the food you just gave her to a total stranger who is walking by and asks for help.

Want to know what love is? It’s a family living in a motel room that they can barely afford who allows a friend to sleep on their bed, rent free, while they sleep on the floor, knowing full well that if the manager discovered this guest they’d all be thrown out on the street.

Love is a when a couple who once lived on the streets gets their own apartment after years of struggle, who brings in total strangers off the streets to sleep on their couch, so that they can help them get jobs, get their State ID Card, get into Job Corps, and get off the streets.

Before this, I didn’t really know the fullness of the meaning of these words, and I could never have discovered this in a text book, or in an article like this one. It’s the sort of thing you only really learn as you live it out firsthand.

This is why I’m so eager to share this with others. There’s a whole world of things that God wants to show us and teach us, if we’ll just obey Him in this one thing; to love and care for the poor around us.

The Holy Spirit is always trying to get us into relationship, because it’s in relationship with others that He can move and teach and transform us into the image of Jesus.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

GRACE VS WORKS by Keith Giles

GRACE VS WORKS by Keith Giles

I'm fascinated with how the proliferation of the "Easy Grace" version of the Gospel has corrupted our understanding of actually "Following Jesus".

If we're all saved anyway, why fast? Why die to ourselves? Why suffer here in this life? If you do those things and I don't, but we both still go to heaven, why bother?

The warped idea that because we're saved by Grace we therefore shouldn't actually follow Jesus is absurd...and directly in opposition to the words of our Lord Himself.

"If anyone would come after me let him take up his cross daily and follow me"-Jesus

"Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in Heaven." - Jesus

Want a shock? Read Ephesians 2:8-10. This is where Paul unloads the idea that we're saved by Grace "...and not of ourselves lest any man should boast", however, if you read the very next verse he says, "...saved by Grace TO DO GOOD WORKS.."

How about that? The ideas of Grace and Works really do go hand in hand!

Again, we are totally saved by Grace, no question about it. But as Dallas Willard says, "Grace is not opposed to effort".

The area where we've gotten so confused is in understanding that, just because works won't save us, that doesn't mean that works are bad. It just means we need to have a correct understanding of the idea of service.

Jesus says in Matthew 4 "..Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only."

Service and worship are linked together. Worship is more than singing songs and crying and jumping up and down to declare with your lips that God is good. It's also, Biblically, about surrendering your whole life to God (Romans 12), and about caring for the poor (Amos 5, Isaiah 58, James 2:14, 1 John 3:17-18, etc.), and about obedience to God and to Jesus' words (John 14:15; Matthew 7:24, etc.).

Works are what actual saved people do gladly. See Matthew 25 for a great proof text.

Here's my analogy: "If you swim all day, you will not become a fish. But if you are a fish, you will swim."

Translation: "If you're actually transformed into a new creature (by Grace), then you will do what a transformed creature does (Obey the Lord you love and serve Him)".

Jesus didn't submit himself to become a baby in the hay, endure the hardships of life, suffer under the Romans, endure whipping, beating, torture and mocking, even death on a cross just so you and I could sit on the couch and watch "American Idol".

He saved us to allow us to be living testimonies of His Grace, not idle recepticles of this amazing love for a private collection.

God help me to live this out!

Wendy and I are called to be missional in our community, and to the world around us, but we both realize it doesn't come natural to us. We're totally throwing ourselves on His mercy, on His Grace, to somehow live in this "Jesus kind of way".

God opposes the proud, but He gives Grace to the humble.

Praise His Holy Name for that.