Thursday, March 30, 2006

NEW: AUDIO SERMON LINKS ONLINE

I just discovered how to add links to my page.

Yeah...I know I'm slow...

But the good news is, now you can check some cool website I love, and also listen to a couple of my sermon's while you're online.

The two up now are:

"Hunger and Thirst" Audio Sermon and...

"Worship and Justice" Audio Sermon.

Both are linked at the lower left.

Enjoy!

kg

Friday, March 24, 2006

VIDEO: BONO'S REMARKS BEFORE CONGRESS

Earlier I emailed the [subversive underground] list about the text for the address Bono (from U2) made before the Congress earlier this month.

Now you can watch the actual video...here:


Awesome!

kg

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

ARTICLE UPDATE: GINKWORLD

My article, "BRINGING JESUS" is now live at Ginkworld (a cool, sensory overload/emerging christian site)

Read it right here:
http://ginkworld.net/

Wubba!

kg

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ENGAGE- APRIL 22ND (NOT JUST ANOTHER CONFERENCE)

SOUL SURVIVOR: ENGAGE is just one month away!

This is designed to be an "un-conference" in that we want this to be a catalyst for real life change, not just another meeting. So, participants can get out of their comfort zone by signing up for pre-conference "Mission Assignments". A workshop "Debrief" session will take place for those who take the challenge to share their experiences.

We've also got an amazing "Soliton Arts Interactive" planned where participants will share their "notes" on the conference publically, via text or drawing or any other artistic method, live on the spot. Others will respond to those notes with their own thoughts, etc. We'll also be posting the art/notes/photos/thoughts/etc. live on the web as the event takes place!

During the day we'll take time (from 2 to 4pm) to go out and serve the poor in the community together. So, we're not just talking about social justice issues, we're actually going to go out and serve as part of our experience!

After the final session, participants can sit around a table with David Ruis, Paul Martin and myself and share in an open round-table dialog about the things we've learned and experienced at the conference...and after it's all over we'll continue the dialog online at our forum, and via the PARABOLIC JOURNAL project which will spawn out of this event.
(check out the PARABOLIC JOURNAL site- http://www.parabolicjournal.com )

We want this to be an event that makes a difference in our actual lives and we're doing all we can to keep the interaction and the dialog open to all who participate, even until the next event in June (MOMENTUM) and the new event in the Fall of '06 (as-yet-untitled).

CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE AND REGISTER FOR THIS AWESOME, INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE:
http://www.soulsurvivorusa.com/engage/

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

THE MISSION-UPDATE MARCH

The house church is going very well. In fact, it's so amazing that I
can't believe it.

Last week's meeting was just a jaw-dropping, eye-opening experience for me.

As usual we started at 6pm by welcoming all our friends, new and old, to the house. One new girl visited for the first time, another new visitor for only the second time returned and brought his guitar to lead us in some worship time later on.

We began by holding hands in the kitchen and praying over the meal, asking the Holy Spirit to come and join us and be part of our meal and fellowsip together.

During the meal I stood up and read from 1 Corinthians (about the Lord's Supper) while people tore off bits of bread from the loaf in front of them and dipped it in the juice cup at the center of their table. After the scripture reading I prayed again for God to join us in our "communion" with each other, and with Him.

Then we at desert (strawberries, ice cream and cake..yum!) and worship soon followed.

THE BEST PART: "SHARE TIME"
We all sat around and shared after our worship time together and slowly we started to realize that someone was stringing together our shared scriptures, dreams, impressions, thoughts, responses and experiences during the week into a cohesive, singular sermon. It wasn't me. It wasn't any of us. It was the Holy Spirit.

It takes my breath away to sit back and watch the Holy Spirit teach a lesson
to us, through us, and yet without our realizing it. I'm not sure I can even
describe it, but it's a thing of beauty.

My son David started us off sharing a dream that God had given him during
the week about the end of the world. Dylan, my other son, then shared about a dream he had also had about the end of the world. (Which is significant since we've not been talking about this in our family, or discussing this sort of thing...nor have we been watching any movies like this. The dreams were just "out of the blue" and yet connected in theme). That lead to a dream that an adult had also that was connected thematically. Then another elementary-age girl shared a scripture with us that had spoken to her this week (John Chapter 1), and then my wife shared what God has been saying to her about maturity.

This lead to some discussion, and then another woman shared about what God has been saying to her, I read a scripture verse, a person came in late to the meeting and started sharing her thoughts on this discussion. Then another woman shared an excerpt from a book she's been reading. That lead to more discussion, more shared experience, and then I read from 2 Peter a verse in chapter three that tied all of this seemingly random thought and experience and discussion together in a neat little bow.

God did that.

Wow.

We spent time afterwards praying over each other, asking the Holy Spirit to
confirm in our lives the lesson He had just taught us through the evening
together. We dismissed but several women ended up in the kitchen laying
hands on my sister-in-law and praying a blessing over her as she wept.
Others gathered and shared what God has been doing in our lives together.

One woman stayed until 11pm and we had an extended, intensive prayer time
together for a dear friend and his family.

For me, this is the best thing I have ever done with the word "Church" on
it.

I can't wait for our next meeting!

Peace,
Kg

Friday, March 10, 2006

CONSTANTINIAN FALL-OUT

In my most recent [subversive underground] newsletter entitled "MODELS" I shared a little about my personal struggle with what I've learned lately about Constantine and his negative impact on the modern church as we know it.

I'm currently reading a book about Constantine that details his conversion to Christ and his subsequent murder of his wife and son, and most of his friends and advisors...after he supposedly turned to Jesus.

Beyond this, Constantine had difficulty with the idea of the crucifixion of God's son (he felt it was an embarrassing display of God's failure to rescue his own), and he scolded his own sister for her "worship" of Jesus.

It's difficult to say that this person was a saint...or to even accept that he really had a life-changing experience with the same Jesus you and I follow.

More troublesome to me is how Constantine's impact on our modern church practice and tradition has effectively removed our earlier family-based form of worship (the House Church) and created a form of Christianity where the family/relational form of worship was replaced with something more impersonal.

In essence, Constantine broke up the relational house churches and set up their leaders as miniature kings who would now rule over a peasant class which would be taxed to pay for the upkeep of the castle (the church building), and the provision of the new christian royalty.

This bothers me.

As I shared this with the faithful [subversive underground] subscribers, I received quite a few responses. Some supportive and in agreement with me, some questioning my motives, some critical....but that's what this is all about. I want an open dialog and I really am trying to work out this stuff in my own life and in my own head.

Here are some of the edited responses I offered up today to a few of those who asked for more clarity on this issue.

First of all, I'm sorry if I came across as being judgemental or critical of the modern church. I'm really trying not to be too critical...and honestly, if someone can show me where the early Christians met somewhere other than homes (in those first 300 years before Constantine), I'm very, very open to seeing this evidence. I mean, I WANT to find it. I'm seriously willing to email all 56 people on this underground list and admit my mistake if someone can show me where I'm wrong on this point.

Yes, the book of Acts shows us the earliest Christians meeting in Solomon's Collonade (or Porch), and we know that sometimes they would gather in the temple in Jerusalem, but as persecutions (by the Jews) increased, this became less and less possible. Soon, even within the time period of the writing of the book of Acts itself, and the entire New Testament, we see the early Church meeting in their homes almost exclusively. For 300 years the home was the main place the church would meet. (And I always have to stop and remind everyone at this point that the United States of America isn't 300 years old).

Secondly, I'm not trying to paint all "non-house churches" as evil, paganized organizations. I really am thinking out loud here. I'm honestly struggling in this email, and in my real heart, NOT to do this. I want to remain open to both the historical facts of christian history, and the reality of God's Spirit moving with power through His church (all of it...all forms and models of it) right up to this very day.

PERSONAL PERSPECTIVES
I have parents in the modern church form. I have great friends and colleagues in the "constantinian" form of church. Some of these friends, and my parents, are reading this email newsletter. The last thing I want to do is to insult them or make enemies with these dearest of friends and family.

What I am trying to do here is to share with everyone what I'm learning, what I'm reading, what I sense God saying to me about house church. I believe that House Church is not for everyone. I'm not arguing for all of us to tear down the traditional church model. I believe God is still madly in love with His Bride as it exists in this form, and as it has existed in this
form for thousands of years.

But...gee...wouldn't you want to know about how this one guy (Constantine) shaped our christian history and practice? How he never really converted to Christianity at all and yet how our traditions have been tainted by his influence? It's seriously fascinating, and troubling to me.

What do we do about this? I don't know.

SO WHAT?
As I said in my previous email article, I'm asking myself if I can just learn about this, accept it as fact, and then just go, "So What?" and let it go.

People who don't go to house church are not evil. People in the house church aren't smarter or more holy or spiritual. We're all honestly following Jesus the best we know how.

But I would hope we would all be willing to just take a look at the stuff I've shared and take it at face value. You don't have to agree with me. That's cool. But I do feel the need to defend myself and make it clear that I'm not calling for an end to the organized church. What I am doing is to ask hard questions, share my personal misgivings, and offer up my
perspective, and my personal decisions about what I'm learning, with others.

I'm more than willing to be questioned, and rebuked, by anyone on this point. Some of my friends and fellow pastors have dialoged with me about my comments, and it's been helpful to me.

(sorry to ramble on and on here...almost done..)

What I didn't share in the last email was that I realize that what I want to be is a reformer of modern christianity, not a revolutionary. I don't want to argue. I don't want to fight. But I do hope to ask good questions and share some of my perspective with others and pray that God does the rest to reform His Bride in the areas He wants to do this.

I'm honestly trying to walk out this paragraph above.

FINAL THOUGHTS
So, as I consider these thoughts, and I struggle internally with what to do about these thoughts and ideas, I think I have come to a few conclusions...(for those of you still reading this monologue):

1) I need to focus on the postive experiences I've had in our House Church more than I spend any more time criticizing the modern church.

2) I need to emphasize that the Church is more about who we are as followers of Jesus and less about where we meet or how we go about worship. This is a core conviction of mine and I realize that some of my ramblings on Constantine start to undermine this key point. "We are the Church. Church is not a place you go to for a meeting. We need to BE the Church, not attend one."

3) While I feel that Constantine screwed up the Church in many ways, God is the one who has allowed this and has redeemed this structure and form for His Glory. God has the last laugh. Seventeen hundred years later, God has a Bride that has emerged victorious, in spite of the clothes that Constantine has put on her. One day Christ will give Her a new robe, a wedding gown of pure white and nothing any man does will change that inevitable truth.

4) I'm still learning. I can be wrong. I might not have it all together myself. Just a few months ago I was blissfully ignorant of these unsettling thoughts and God loved me as much then as He does now.

5) This blog entry is way too long.

Thanks for reading.

peas,
kg

Monday, March 06, 2006

CLOSED DOORS, OPEN WINDOWS


CLOSED DOORS, OPEN WINDOWS
By Keith Giles

Yesterday I had one of those days that you anticipate with dread.

Wendy and I have been slowly transitioning out of the church we had helped to plant in Tustin over three years ago. Since October of last year we have been meeting with our friends and fellow pastors about feeling called to leave and start a new church elsewhere.

The journey itself has been a painful one. Saying goodbye, asserting your convictions, standing for what God has called you to do, and defending your vision is always difficult when those who disagree with you are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

All in all, this could have been worse. As painful as this process has been for our family, and for those who remain behind at the church, God’s grace has been sufficient to sustain our friendships, and to maintain our fellowship.

For the last five months my family has been continuing to serve in the elementary class we started called “Kids Rock”, training new teachers, handing over responsibility and becoming advisors rather than leaders in a ministry we dearly love, for children we have pastored for three years.

Yesterday was our last Sunday. We had agreed upon the date of March 5th as our final Sunday in attendance.

We had been dreading the goodbye, and especially the pain of closing the doors. Even though we know we’ll still see many of our friends again, and we aren’t moving away, the process of saying goodbye itself is most painful, especially when so many of our friends still don’t understand why we’re leaving and don’t support what we’re doing now.

But God has a way of healing wounds and mending hearts.


As a tribute of sorts, they had put together a short video collage. Thankfully, the video was brief, and even humorous at times, but we still cried. Wendy and I were invited up front, along with our two boys, and the entire pastoral staff laid hands on us and prayed a blessing over us, to send us out in our new, strange, ministry of house church.

After this blessing, they presented us with a baseball bat which had been signed by everyone in the church, encouraging us to “step up and swing the bat” for the King in all that we do.

I prayed over the elementary children, one last time, and then we went out with them for our final class together. The Kids Rock class itself was great. Wendy and I had a great time with the kids, and there were no tears (thankfully) as we gave our final lesson.

After church we took the kids to the Pizza Party, and then over to a friend’s house for a Baptism.

My final day at this church, I stood in the hot tub, side by side with my Pastor and friend, Robert Crabbe, and together we baptized a little boy from our Kids Rock class, a little girl whose family we met while ministering at the motel in Santa Ana, and an older gentleman who had never been baptized in his life, even though he had served the Lord faithfully for many years.

Afterwards, as we stood waist deep in the warm water, Robert and I were able to talk, and to share about these last few months of transition, about the pain, and the tears, and the way God had held things between us together for His Glory, and His Purpose. In that moment, there was healing, and an agape kind of love for my brother in Christ that transcends words. It was a sweet moment of grace between the two of us that only God could have orchestrated.

After all the disagreements, after all the pain of tearing ourselves away from our friends and church family to launch out into the unknown, there was something healing about doing the work of the Kingdom alongside my brother in Christ that last day. In the act of initiating these few children into the family of God, Robert and I became brothers again. Our differences faded into the background for those few moments, and our words lost all value and meaning in the simple obedience of baptism.

I am thankful for the time we spent at The River, serving the poor, teaching the children, and sharing our lives with the good people there. I’m grateful that we’ve been part of the legacy of this church in these areas of compassion and ministry to children, and to know that these ministries will continue under new and capable leaders.

Planting a church like this one has been one of the most dynamic and spiritually stimulating experiences of my life. In truth, it has been a sort of laboratory where I’ve been free to try new things, dream big, and lead others in the kind of Christianity I’d only dreamed of before. I’ll never forget my time in this church.

Now, we turn our full attention towards the work of God at The Mission, the small house church that meets weekly in our home. This is our new adventure. This is the next laboratory of the Spirit for us to discover more of Him, walk deeper into the Kingdom, and become more like Jesus in the process.

Wendy and I take strength from the experiences of serving at The River and set our hearts toward the new thing that God is doing in our family, for His Glory.

God has been so faithful to us, opening a window for us, even as he closes a door. We know that He has so much more in store as we continue serving Him and seeking His face.