Thursday, May 31, 2007
BEAUTY AND TRUTH
By Keith Giles
Many of you may already be familiar with the controversy surrounding the work of art known as “Piss Christ” created by Andres Serrano a few years ago.
The scandal took on a fever pitch when protesters discovered that the work had been paid for under a Government Grant to the National Endowment for The Arts. This gave detractors leverage within the political arena to demand it be removed from public galleries, boycotted and banned.
Many in the religious community also maligned the work because of its controversial subject matter, but mostly I suspect because the conservative leadership of their political party declared it to be officious and therefore, “Un-Christian”.
To me, this work is one of the most poignant and powerful works of religious art ever created. It may not be “Politically Correct”, but it certainly is “Spiritually Correct”.
The photograph depicts Jesus submerged into the artist's urine (symbolizing our filth) while on the cross. This is exactly what Jesus did when He humbled Himself, left the splendor of Heaven and submitted His life, even unto death on the cross in order to rescue us.
I can’t think of a more accurate artistic representation of the incarnation than this. What better symbol of the love of Jesus for us than that He would willingly be born into a place that reeked of our filth? Wasn’t his birth in a stable?
What better illustration of God’s love for us than that He would submit to being immersed in our filthiness, our sin, in order to liberate us?
I love Serrano’s work because I think it’s one of the most profoundly evocative works of real art that I’ve ever seen involving the Divine in collision with the corruptible flesh of mankind.
If only a Christian artist could create such a powerful and true work of art…
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I've never been a big Beatles fan, but I think they were on to something when they suggested that "All We Need Is Love". According to Jesus, this is our main calling, to love one another. We are to be a people who are known for our extravagant love. We are commanded to go so far as to love even our Enemies.
As you may imagine, love is not an easy thing to do. I've discovered that love is only easy until you start trying to put it into practice and then you suddenly realize that it costs more than you're willing to pay, it asks more than you're willing to give, and it hurts more than you thought possible.
Love is not for the faint of heart.
In 1 Corinthians 12 and 13, the Apostle Paul reveals to us that love is actually the greatest of all spiritual gifts. Without it, we are empty and our efforts are useless. Love, the sort of love we are called as followers of Jesus to share with others, is a supernatural force that we must be filled up with by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Human love is conditional. It is based on the principal of mutual exchange. I will love you if you will love me. But the love of God, the love that Jesus commands us to share, is unconditional love. It is sacrificial love. It is love that is given regardless of attitude or position or what can be gained.
This is the sort of love that is kicking my butt right now.
At the beginning of this year I shared with our House Church a vision for us to walk through "Concentric Circles of Love" where we would begin with our own families, and then radiate outward to our church family, and then our neighbors, our co-workers, and then to the community around us.
I still believe this is God's heart for us, but now I think I realize that, without a sincere miracle from God, none of us will ever get beyond the first circle. I know that I'm quickly realizing my capacity for love is not as deep as I first imagined.
I'm encouraged, however, that Paul's assertion regarding love is that we cannot do it on our own. We are not expected to have within us a love that is equal to God's love. But, if we will humble ourselves and seek His face, and ask God to fill us with His kind of love, He will.
God's desire for us is to be known as people who love like He loves. He has commanded us to live this way. He knows we can't accomplish this by ourselves, so He is faithful to fill us with His perfect love when we admit that we don't have it.
I'm learning now that, every day, I need to ask God for His Holy Spirit to fill me with His Love for others. It's part of the daily surrender, the daily dieing to self, the daily conversion to Christ, that all of us must seek if we are ever to be the people He is calling us to be.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Yesterday I spent some time formatting my first book project, “The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?” for publishing.
It’s shaping up great!
Today I got confirmation from a good friend, who just happens to be a published author himself, that he will write an introduction to my book and even help me proof it.
It helps to have friends, doesn’t it?
I’ll probably self-publish the book and offer for sale as a link off of this main website.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Sometimes I wonder about my role in the Universe. What is my purpose in the grand scheme of things?
Last night during our
As we prayed for my friend, I began to reflect on what my overall “Kingdom Footprint” looked like. Maybe I assume it must be something epic and world-changing because of my inflated ego? Probably.
Is my major calling to write and publish a book? I’m working to self-publish my first book project sometime this year with another one already finished for next year. Is that it? Or is my calling to pastor people like my friend who are stepping into the National spotlight with a chance to communicate the values of the Kingdom to the adolescent mind? Maybe my calling is just to be a good husband and father who learns humility and finds the Grace to love people the way Jesus did?
I think this speaks to my previous [Subversive Underground] article about my concept of “Greatness” and God’s definition, which are wildly opposite it seems.
I do have aspirations of publishing my books and helping others to really grasp the Gospel of The Kingdom and walk it out in their everyday life. I am blessed that I get to write my little e-newsletter each week and have 150 or so people read it and (hopefully) get blessed by it. I am blessed that webzines like TheOoze.com and Ginkworld.net and SeedStories.com regularly publish my articles.
I do have a calling to continually pastor our
I do have a calling to be a Godly husband and father. I am blessed that my wife and I are cradled in the loving arms of God our Abba every single day. I am blessed that my sons know and love God and that they have such a simple and sincere faith in Jesus. I am blessed that God has continually taught me how to walk daily in the Spirit and that He still has patience with me as I stumble through my walk of faith.
God has been showing me lately that there are Kingdom concepts that I understand but have yet learned how to actually implement effectively. Such as “Loving One Another” and “Blessing Those Who Persecute You”.
Loving others is really kicking my butt right now.
Loving my friends who are caught in adultery has brought a rift in our relationship. Loving my brothers in Christ has meant risk and truth and accountability. I am learning that life outside my comfort zone, although essential for Kingdom Life, is hard and very…uhmm…”Uncomfortable”.
Still, we follow on and seek His face.
“…where else can we go? You have the words of life.”
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
TOP 10 THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (But Probably Doesn’t)
By Keith Giles
*The articles published so far on my [Subversive Underground] E-Newsletter and also online as part of a monthly
series over at www.GinkWorld.net
10- The Christian Sub-Culture is not healthy for you
8- Obedience to Jesus is NOT Optional
7- Work is not a bad word
6 – We ARE the Church!
*So..have I missed anything so far? Anything you think belongs on this list?
I've already established the entire Top 10 in advance, but I'm curious if any of you have an idea for this series that
I might have missed...or that might end up in "Another 10 Things Every Christian Should Know" series to follow?
Let me know...
EMAIL ME AT: "elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"
Sunday, May 20, 2007
He who knows not and knows he knows not; He is simple. Teach him.
He who knows and knows not he knows; He is asleep. Wake him.
He who knows and knows he knows; He is wise. Follow him.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
*NOTE: This article is available on my blog at the link below. It originally appeared a few years ago in GQ Magazine and was written by Walter Kirn, who willingly spent several days immersed in the Christian Bubble (or Sub-Culture) which he calls "The Ark". Great insights. Cutting commentary.
"What Would Jesus Do?" by Walter Kirn
(Originally Published in GQ Magazine)
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?BUT MORE, IMPORTANT, WHAT WERE JESUS' FITNESS SECRETS? IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE GROWING MILLIONS OF AMERICANS LIVING IN THE MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR CHRISTIAN ALTERNACULTURE
—IN WHICH EVERYTHING IN MAINSTREAM CULTURE GETS CLONED AND THEN
BLEACHED OF "SINFUL" CONTENT—YOU'D KNOW. WALTER KIRN SPENDS
SEVEN STRANGE DAYS WALKING IN THE SHOES OF THE FAITHFUL.
DAY ONE: RESOLUTlONS
Today I will pray for Jewel, the singer-songwriter, "that Jewel's artistry in music and poetry will draw her audience into an encounter with truth." Tomorrow I'11 pray for Paul Allen, the
Microsoft billionaire, "that Allen and others working on the leading edge of interactive media will pursue their objectives with integrity." And later this week, in the manner and order prescribed by Praying for the Worlds 365 Most Influential People: 5 Minutes a Day to Change Your World, I will pray for Michael Crichton, the author/producer; for Jesse Helms, the North Carolina senator; and for Bill Nye, who hosts TV's Bill Nye the Science
Today I will start reading Desecration, the ninth installment of the Left Behind series, a best-selling fictional treatment of the Apocalypse that pits the heroic Rayford Steele ("original member of the Tribulation Force3 against the cloven-hoofed Nicolae Carpathia ("self-appointed Global Community potentate3. Today I will dine on foods from What Would Jesus Eat? by Don Colbert, M.D., heeding Dr. Colbert's solemn warning that "eating a diet
high in salt, low in fiber, very high in fat and sugar, and virtually void of nutrients is not the way Jesus ate. Today I will ask my daughter, Maisie, 3, to pick out a video from the Bibleman
series, a live-action superhero saga for kids directed by and featuring Willie Aames of Eight Is Enough and Charles in Charge fame.
Today I will plug in my TVGuardian, a handy electronic chaperone whose "patent pending, award winning technology" filters out "95% to 100% of foul language from TV shows" and replaces objectionable phrases like She's such a #%h! and Oh !t! with She's such a
nag! and Oh crud!
Today I will leave behind the fallen world of secular American pop culture and enter the self-contained parallel universe of American Christian pop culture, within which I've vowed to dwell, exclusively, for seven days and nights, watching PAX instead of NBC and letting Pat Robertson be my Tom Brokaw. But first, before I do any of these things, I will read from my new prayer book and ask God "to bless Jewel with safety, meaningful relationships" and, of course, "success."
DAY TWO: ADJUSTMENT
I wake aboard the Ark....
MORE IN THE LINK:
Saturday, May 05, 2007
I just wrote a new worship song this Thursday called "Good To Me" that's based on Zephaniah 3 where it says that "God delights in you. He sings over you. He will quiet you with His love"...which always blesses me.
Anyway, for some reason my [Subversive Underground] is being delayed by the fine folks at Feedblitz, I think. This week's article was written and posted on May 2nd and as of today, May 5th at 9:44pm PST it has still not been sent out to our 150 faithful subscribers....sorry.
I've done a few little tricks of my own to jump-start the feed. Hopefully those work and tomorrow morning the latest [SU] will send. If not, people will assume I've flaked off a week, which I most certainly have NOT!
Anyway, for those of you who have been praying for me (and you know who you are)...I've FINALLY got a full-time job!!
Today I accepted a full-time sales position at a company in Fullerton that designs, manufactures and distributes high-pressure cleaning systems for professional-grade industries and carpet cleaners.
Yes...very, very sexy isn't it?
So, if I do well in this new job (and I pray that I will) the potential is that I could make some very serious money. (Oh please, oh, please, oh please!!)
Don't stop praying!
I've got about 4 different [Subversive Underground] articles brewing at the moment...wanna hear what they are?
One is on "Lopsided Community" and how the modern/traditional church in America has misunderstood what true community should look like and the dangers of doing so.
Another is on my personal struggle with Constantinian Models of Church and balancing this with grace and love towards my brothers and sisters in the Traditional church model. *This is a tough one to write about since I admittedly struggle with my feelings and opinions on this very issue.
Another is on "Real Forgiveness" as Jesus teaches it and let me warn you in advance, the teachings of Jesus on forgiveness would make your Sunday School teacher explode into tiny pieces. No...seriously.
And the other one is Part 6 in my ongoing series "Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know (But Probably Doesn't)" over at Ginkworld.net right now. Parts 10 through 7 are online now...at least I was told that part 7 posts this weekend.
I'll probably be posting a lot more over at TheOoze.com in the coming months. They seem to like my writing and I get a LOT more response from readers over there too. I like feedback. It's really one of the main reasons I started this blog and the [SU] newsletter...and the [SU] Forum (which only Martin G. and two other guys in Africa ever post at...but that's another story.
So...this post is also a test to see if the new blogger feature of email posting actually works or not. My first test from my hotmail account came out wonky so I'm trying another web-based email account for this one.
Cross your fingers.
Hope you all have a great weekend!
Friday, May 04, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Somehow both things are true. I need to endure suffering. I need to humble myself. I need to discover the power of Christ in the depths of my own weakness. Yet at the same time, God's love for me is legendary. It is beyond imagination and expression.
Because I can become numb to God's amazing love for me, I sometimes also forget that He loves to bless His children. He loves to give them good gifts. He loves to make them smile.
I've been out of full-time work for about ten months now. Because I've been so fixated on dying to myself, I've started to assume that God really doesn't want to bless me with a great job. When people pray for me and ask God to bring me a job beyond my imagination, or better than my wildest dreams, I unconsciously smirk inside. I seriously doubt those words. I appreciate the sentiment. I am grateful for their kindness. But I doubt the truth of the words in the prayers about God's intentions toward me.
I suspect that God will give me a job that just barely covers rent and bills. Something mundane and possibly even painful and uncomfortable. I mean, the whole reason my family and I have been enduring all of this pain and difficulty and challenge for these 10 months now is all to teach me how to carry my cross and humble myself, isn't it? So, why would my job, whatever it is, whenever it comes, be any different?
I don't know. But, this morning, around 4am I couldn't sleep and I got out of bed. I walked to our den and knelt down in front of the sofa. I prayed and asked my Abba, my Daddy, to please provide a good job for me, soon. I prayed and I asked Him for a job I would really enjoy. I prayed for a place where I could use my gifts and talents and still provide for my family here in Orange County.
As I prayed I began to take courage. I began to feel hope rise up within me again. I recalled a verse from James that says, "You have not because you ask not" and so I started to ask God, from my heart, for what I really hoped for; A new job, a good job, and soon.
I wish I could say I am now totally convinced that all will work out for the best. Right now I think I do. I have a small hope. But, still, something inside me isn't so sure that my season of enduring pain is really about to be over so soon...
Excuse me, I think I need to go back and pray a little more.