Friday, March 28, 2008

This Is What Jesus Had In Mind

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm."

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'"


If those who call themselves followers of Jesus would do exactly what this man did, we could change the evening news. We could change the hearts of men. We could turn the world upside down.

If only we could take Jesus seriously...

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." - JESUS (Matthew 5:38-42


Thursday, March 27, 2008

How To Start Your Own Non-Con

by Keith Giles

When I first came up with the idea for this "Non-Conference" I wanted it to be something simple, easy to pull off and to duplicate.

I've had about 4 years of experience planning, marketing and running conferences and events of this sort, which really helped me to understand how a scaled-down "Non-Con" could be done effectively.

The advantages of doing an event like the Non-Con is that its "small on purpose" design takes a lot of the pressure off of constantly trying to get more people to come. The Non-Con works best if it's small. In fact, the smaller the better.

Our first Non-Con was just over 100 people and honestly, I would have been happier had it been more like 50 or possibly 65 people, but, even as awesome as our first Non-Con was (and it really, really was awesome), I would have personally been happier with a smaller, more interactive group.

So, the pressure is off in many respects when you're promoting and planning a Non-Con. If you end up with 30 people count that as a success. It will be a great day with less people who are truly interested and passionate about your shared dialog.

To effectively plan a Non-Con you'll need to outline the basics of your day. I'll use our Non-Con as an example, but please feel free to tweak or change any of the day's elements as you see fit. It's your Non-Con, after all, not mine.

I usually break the day up into thirds. The first third is the check-in, meet and greet time, shared breakfast/coffee, welcome and session one (which includes worship songs and response time, along with the main speaker/facilitator).

The second third is lunch, workshops, and session 2. The third session is dinner, session 3 and possibly a late-night session where people are more free to hang out, find a corner to relax in and connect with their new friends.

So, plan out your day. Who are your 3 main session facilitators? Will you have one person lead all 3 sessions or will you invite 3 different people to share? Who will lead your workshops? How many will you have? How long will they be? Our workshops were only 1 hour and next time (if there is a next time) I'll make them 2 hours long so that everyone can really take the time they need to explore our themes.

No matter what you plan throughout your day be sure to keep in mind that simple is better, less is more and those long stretches of time where people are just eating and talking to each other? Those are the best parts of your day! Give people time to connect, to talk and to interact. That's one of the things that makes the Non-Con so different from the average, large-scale conference.

Our Non-Con had a 3 pronged focus. We started by talking about the Gospel of the Kingdom (David Ruis), we followed that by talking about our calling to live out the Gospel in our everyday life (Keith Giles), and we ended by exploring God's heart for the poor and the broken and the outcast (Jackie Pullinger). To be fair, all 3 of those discussions spilled over into each other throughout the day. That was totally cool, actually. It helped to illustrate how these 3 things are intertwined in the life of those who follow Jesus.

So, you may want to follow a similar theme, or maybe you want to focus on human trafficking, or on the homeless, or on Christian Unity, or...whatever. It's your choice, but be sure up front what your themes are and be sure to communicate those clearly in your marketing and messaging about this day. (More on this later).

In this area I feel like I am overly blessed. God has brought some amazing people into my life and some of them are good friends. I mean, I have relationships with a wide variety of published authors, worship leaders, artists, and a few world-class leaders. You might not be in that same position. So, when you sit down and begin to draw up your wish list of facilitators your options might not include someone with a well-known name or a recognizable face. Honestly, that's ok. Again, your goal isn't to draw a crowd of 500 or more. Your goal is to gather just 50 to 100 people who share your interest and your passion about the theme in question.

Once you've made your wish list of facilitators go ahead and invite them to your Non-Con. Start by introducing yourself (if you need to) and by explaining the vision for this special day. Your facilitators need to understand that you are inviting them to speak for less than 100 people, not a massive event with thousands of people. If they catch the vision for this day (conversational, relational, interactive, open dialog, on a theme, etc.) they will be more likely to cooperate with your vision and their expectation will be for something small and humble right off the bat.

Again, I have some flat-out amazing friends who are front-line practitioners in the area of justice, community development, evangelism, missional life, and the arts. These are people who may not have written books or appeared on television but they have the talent and the experience to really speak to people.

Once you've established a theme for your day try to build workshops that (more or less) touch on that theme. At our Non-Con I had an Arts workshop even though our main sessions didn't touch on the arts, but I did so because a lot of what we were talking about are topics that are very challenging to artists and have an incredible impact on the arts today. It's ok to go off the map a bit and it adds to the value of your day.

When you invite your workshop leaders, again, plainly explain to them the vision for this day and lower their expectations. You're not calling them to fame and fortune, you're calling them to teach and to encourage and to share what God has invested in them with others who will be blessed by that experience.

If you know a few people who can lead worship in a small group setting, invite them to come and hang out for your Non-Con and lead others in worship. Keep it to one guitar and maybe one percussionist. No big bands. No loud guitars. No "buy my new cd" please. Keep it simple and the worship will be sweet and people will be drawn to a place of humble adoration. God is the object of our worship time. Let's remember that.

If possible, try not to do this inside a church. Our Non-Con was at Triangle Square, a local shopping center in Costa Mesa. I think nearly everyone who came to our Non-Con was amazed to find out that this was a church. Soul Survivor Church was gracious enough to let us use their facility. The reason I chose this location was that it didn't look like a church, it didn't have a sign outside that identified it as a church, and it didn't "feel" like a church. It was a neutral location and that was by design.

Why? Because I've learned over the years that if you say, "Come to Conference X at Hillside Baptist Church" people who are not Baptist will say, "'s a Baptist event" and they will stay home. It's sad, but it's the hard truth.

If you want your Non-Con to attract a nice cross-section of the Body of Christ in your area, please avoid denominational language and locations and terminology in all of your correspondence.

I'd recommend scouting out a local community center, or look into renting a local high school gymnasium.

One option would be to look into using a local college chapel or perhaps a reasonably priced hotel conference room.

I use to set up all of my website stuff. I used it to build the Non-Con site because it was free, it was simple and easy to set up and it fit our whole "we're not a conference" vibe. Oh, and it was free.

Setting up your Non-Con blog/website is very simple. First, register for a Google Mail ( account. Next go to and set up your blog page. It really doesn't matter what you call it, (i.e. - ""), because the next thing you'll need to do is to go over to and sign up to purchase a URL name for about $6.95. I purchased "" for two years (since my event would fall just after that first year expired) and did a re-direct for that URL to point to my blogspot page:

It took about 30 minutes and cost me $15.00. You can do this. Really.

Once you've set up your main website/blogger page, you can begin posting your basic "What Is The Non-Con?" teaser post. Use mine at if you like. Go ahead and steal it and make it your own. That's what it's for.

If you want to get fancy (and I did), you can open two new blogspot/blogger websites (all under your same gmail login ID) and call one "SCHEDULE" and call the other "WORKSHOPS".

Next, link those two pages to each other in the sidebar and then link all of them back to the Main Page sidebar. (The dashboard function in your blog will show you how to do this. If you have trouble just set up all blogs and then email me for help with the linking function or ask a friend who knows HTML).

NOTE: I'll offer the option to anyone who wants to do their own Non-Con to use the existing link as a main hub. I'll be your webmaster for your event and all of the Non-Con events can be hosted on this one main website. You don't HAVE to do this, but if you want to have me take care of the website updates and links and stuff for your Non-Con event I'll happily do that for you. Just let me know.

Details about WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and WHY are essential. You can embed a Google Maps link into your page (like I did, under "SCHEDULE") and search up hotels in the area (again, thank you Google), and post that info too.

Have your email contact on their somewhere so people can ask you questions. Use an alternate email just for this event if you're afraid of getting spammed into oblivion on your main, personal email (recommended).

Be sure to tell everyone a bit about who your speakers and worship leaders are (but don't go overboard. Remember, less is more).

Feel free to link back to our main NON-CON page ( so people can get a sense that this isn't the first one. It helps build credibility if they can connect what you're doing with what we did here. Use us to make yourself look good. We don't mind.

Again, I have benefitted from years of event marketing experience with Soul Survivor, Arms of Love and my own little conference stuff over the years. The Non-Con was actually my 3rd event with David Ruis, for example. So, I've slightly perfected this in my area.

To get your marketing started for your Non-Con you'll need an email list. First, start with your own personal list. Ask your friends to forward your emails to their friends, and if you use an email service such as Topica (recommended) be sure to check that box that says, "Forward to a friend" so others can do just that.

My secret is that a few years ago I googled every local church website I could find and went to every one of them and harvested email addresses for worship leaders, pastors and especially benevolence pastors.

I also have friends at Soul Survivor, Transparent Productions (a local Christian concert promoter), and since I write for,, and other websites, I have friends who are willing to send out my event info and website link via their own email blasts. You should do what you can to leverage similar resources.

I also marketed the Non-Con via this blog and my free, weekly e-newsletter [Subversive Undergound]. If you decide to do your own Non-Con you can count on me to market your event on my blog and newsletter too. It's all in the family now.

I usually use a local full-color glossy print company to purchase 2,000 postcards for like $250. (Remember, you'll need someone with graphic design skills and photoshop or illustrator, etc. to help you design the postcard graphic front and back and set it up on the printers template...this will cost you money too).

For the Non-Con I decided not to go the postcard route since we were getting steady registrations and it didn't seem necessary to spend that money. However, if you want to do postcards and you don't want to spend a lot of money here's what I recommend.

Get a stack of brown paper grocery bags and a box of sharpie markers. Assemble a group of friends together and buy some pizzas. Have everyone tear out rectangles and start hand-writing on each the following:

MARCH 1, 2009

*Again, keep it simple. The name "Non-Con", the date, last names of your speakers, the price, the website (most important), and the price.

Drop these at local christian bookstores or, if you're really feeling adventurous, stuff them inside your local free weekly news magazines (if you have one), or drop them in local restrooms, tape them to bulletin boards at the local college, etc.

Guerilla marketing is fun, effective and best of all, it works!

I absolutely demand that you use for your online registration. They are a free online service. They allow you pass along the credit card fees to the customer and they mail you a check each month. Nothing could be easier.

If you're having shared meals, I'd recommend charging the $40 per person, or if you feel like your speakers/facilitators are interesting enough even $50.

Our event just about broke even on everything, but we also paid out an honorarium for David and Jackie and we bought a little gift card for each of our workshop leaders too.

I used a very basic Microsoft Xcel spreadsheet to map out my break-even point on registrants based on the $40 per person price. I knew that if I didn't get at least 45 people were were dead meat. You need to know that sort of stuff too.

The shared meals were very crucial to our interactive element at The Non-Con. This meant that I had to be sure that people would stick around to eat together and that the food we provided didn't suck. We had pizza for lunch (about 30 pizzas altogether) and El Pollo Loco for dinner (they have party packs to serve 50 and 100 people).

We purchased water, drinks, chips, nuts, snacks, etc. at the local Costco (or Smart and Final or other bulk food store).

Coffee was purchased in 5 gallon jugs from a local coffeeshop we love (not Starbucks). They provided the cups, sugar, creamer, stirrers, etc.

Find volunteers to help you. For the Non-Con, especially if it's your first event, I'd recommend you have dedicated volunteers (not you) handling these jobs:
*Registration (2 people)
*Set up/Tear down (2 people)
*Food Prep/Clean up (2 people)

Please try not to let all of this be done by the same 2 people. Please don't make yourself one of those 2 people. As the event coordinator, you need to be available to see the big picture and to make sure that everything else about the day goes as planned.

Pray!! I cannot stress enough the importance of prayer in these cases. Make sure that it's really God's idea for you to do something like this and that you've heard from Him about the theme, the speakers, and the details of this day.

Also, keep in mind, things WILL go wrong. Not everything you plan will work out as you had intended. It's ok to roll with the flow, and most likely the average person at your event will not even notice most of what doesn't go as you planned.

Please feel free to email me if you are seriously considering doing your own NON-CON event in the next year or so. I'll be happy to assist you and to answer any questions I can.

My email is:
"elysiansky" (at) hotmail (dot) com


SEX AND CHOCOLATE is a nonprofit organization that brings attention to the issue of Human Trafficking and sex slavery.

Their current Sex and Chocolate Tour (a two hour experiential learning forum about the world of sex and slavery that exists in cocoa farms) has already visited cities including Ventura, Torrance, Azusa, San Dimas, and Portland.

If you are interested in participating or hosting a Sex and Chocolate learning forum, please email us at We can help you put on a successful awareness, networking, and mobilization event that addresses these issues of slavery.

For more info visit them online



Tuesday, March 25, 2008



Back in 2008, Keith Giles created a one-day conference called the "Non-Con" - a conference for people who never want to attend another conference again.

*An intentionally small gathering of 100 people who were curious about living out their faith outside their comfort zone.
*A time for serving the poor in the community together.
*A dialog-driven, interactive discussion with front-line practitioners of Justice and Mercy.
*A place for shared meals.
*A place for simple worship with one guitar in the center of our circle.
*A time for artistic expression and interaction.

WHY "Non-Con"?
*The aim was to create something unlike any previous conference experience. We wanted this to be small, hype-free, intentional and interactive where everyone who attended would be free to speak, to minister and to become involved with our leaders, and others.

RECORDED AT: The Non-Con at Triangle Square in Newport Beach, CA back in 2008.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Support For Jackie Pullinger and St. Stephen's Society

Many people have been asking me how they can financially support the work that Jackie Pullinger and others are doing for the poor in Hong Kong.

Jackie herself has asked that no one send money to her if they are not first helping their own poor. This means she would prefer that you discover who your poor are, those who live in poverty in your own city and your own community, and help them and love them and serve them first of all.

If, in addition to serving the poor in your community ("Your Poor"), you would like to send financial assistance to Jackie and those who are helping her to serve the poor in Hong Kong, here are the instructions for doing so:

"For those sending checks from the United States, you can send them through the Desert Vineyard Christian Fellowship, 1011 E Avenue I, Lancaster CA 93535, USA. These checks will need to be made out to the Desert Vineyard with a note that they are designated for us (St. Stephen's Society).

"These donations are tax deductible through the Desert Vineyard. Be sure to address all correspondence to the attention of CAROLYNE GUY."

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I've posted some images and details of our Good Friday and Easter services at The Mission over the weekend.

It was an awesome time to reflect on the sacrifice of our Lord and to celebrate the wonder of His resurrection under the wide open sky in the park together.

Photos and details

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kingdom Contrast

The world we live in is upside down from reality. Reality, the way things really are, is seen in The Kingdom of God.

Here are the contrasts we see between the World and God's Kingdom:

Generosity is defined in the World as: "How much we give"
Generosity is defined in God's Kingdom as: "How much we hold on to"

Love is defined by the World as: "What you can do for me"
Love is defined in God's Kingdom as: "Unconditional, sacrificial service"

Friendship is defined by the World as: "How you make me feel or look"
Friendship is defined in God's Kingdom as: "I am willing to lay down my life for you"

Greatness is defined by the World as: "What I've accomplished and how much I am honored"
Greatness in God's Kingdom is defined as: "How much I have humbled myself and served others"

Righteousness is defined in the World as: "What I have done to deserve it"
Righteousness in God's Kingdom is defined as: "What Jesus has done for me"


Monday, March 17, 2008


It's impossible for me to summarize all the amazing stuff that God did on Saturday at our first-ever Non-Con here in Costa Mesa, but let me simply say that it was off the charts, over the top, 100% amazing and more than I could have ever hoped for or dreamed of or imagined.

How's that?

I'd like to ask everyone who attended to send me an email about what God did in your life this weekend, and any photos you took during the day or thoughts you could share with everyone else will be posted over at over the next few weeks.

I want to thank David Ruis, Jackie Pullinger, John Thomas, Cindy Rethmeier, Crissy Brooks, Marti Clark, Spencer Burke, Paul Martin, Scott Laumann, Heather Wright and Bill Burgess for their investment in this day and their part in facilitating what God wanted to do in the lives of everyone who was there.

Many people came up throughout the day and at the end of the day to thank me for putting this together and many asked about how they could do something just like it back home.

Watch for a "Start Your Own Non-Con" resource coming soon, either here and/or over at going forward.

I can honestly say that all of the most amazing stuff that happened was absolutely nothing to do with me or what I had planned to happen. God showed up in powerful ways and totally blew us all away with His amazing presence, love, heart, and blessing.

People were challenged, inspired, tweaked, humbled, broken, encouraged and set free.

I can't even begin to entertain the possibility of doing another one next year, or to talk about the possible "Art-Con" later this Fall. Right now I'm simply astounded by what God did on Saturday and excited beyond words about what He will continue to do in the lives of each of us as we return to our mission field, our lives, our churches, and start to practice what God has shown us is right.

More later...


Friday, March 14, 2008

I Have A Super Power

My youngest son, David, is ten years old.

He has a way of pausing for a moment in mid-sentence and spouting off a sentence bristling with simple genius.

One day he was sitting at the kitchen table doing his math homework. Suddenly he looked up for a moment as if he were contemplating an insect's upside-down journey across the ceiling and then he said, "Hey Dad, did you know that any number you multiply by 5 is the same as taking half of that number and adding a zero?"

I stopped sipping my coffee and mentally attempted to refute his simplistic theory. "Let's see, half of 4 is 2, so 5 times 4 would be...20. And half of 10 is 5 so, 5 times 10 would be...50," I said, to my own amazement.

David got back to working on his math again and said, "Yeah, but it only works on even numbers."

I tried the odd numbers next. "Well, half of 3 is 1.5, so 5 times 3 would be...15. Hey David," I said, "It still works with odd numbers. You just move the decimal place over one space to the right."

I was dumbfounded at my son's accidental genius. As a college graduate who is over 40 years old, this mathematical truth had never occurred to me. Not once.

A quick check of my son's math book revealed that he had actually dreamed this up on his own, and after quizzing my wife I discovered that she hadn't taught this to him either.

My son is a genius.

The other day he had another little epiphany. This time it was a spiritual one.

He came into the room and said, "I used to think I had a super power, when I was little. But I could never figure out what it could be." We waited for the punchline to this observation and he matter of factly concluded, "But last night I remembered that I have the power to encourage people and make them feel better. It's my spiritual gift from the Lord. So, I do have a super power, but it's from God."

And then he went back to playing with his Bionicles.

Our house church has made it a priority this year to help each person in our group discover their spiritual gift. We've realized that, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians, God has built us into a church. He's made us, on purpose, a diverse group of people, each with different gifts and talents and interests and abilities.

Because each person performs a specific function within our body, we need each other.

So, if you're part of the Body of Christ, you have a spiritual gift. That gift is specifically given to build up the Body. This means that you matter. You have something each of us needs in our own personal spiritual development.

You, as my son David would say, have a Super Power. Now you need to learn how to use it so that everyone else in the Body can function the way God intended.

Here's a pretty comprehensive listing from scripture regarding the various spiritual gifts that God has given to build and encourage His Church. Which ones do you have?

*Ephesians 4:11 - Apostles; Prophets; Evangelists; Pastors; Teachers.

*1 Cor 12:8-11 - Word of Wisdom; Word of Knowledge; Faith; Healing; Miracles; Prophecy; Discerning Spirits; Tongues; Interpreting tongues.

*Romans 12:6-8 - Prophecy; Service; Teaching; Exhortation; Giving; Leading; Acts of Mercy.

*Miscellaneous - Administration (1 Cor 12:28); Hospitality (1 Pet 4:10); Celibacy (1 Cor 7:7); Martyrdom (1 Cor 13:3); Prophesying in Song (1 Chr 25:2 & 7); Prophesying with instruments (1 Chr 25: 1 & 6); Craftsmanship (Ex 31:3); Dream interpretation (Gen 41:12)

"If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body." - 1 Corinthians 12:19

As we each begin to discover our spiritual gift (or gifts) we can better understand our place in the rest of the Body of Christ.

I personally believe that there are probably even more spiritual gifts than these listed for us in the Bible. Again, variety seems to be God's forte. The list could be endless.

So...what's your Super Power? And more importantly, are you currently free to use it the way God intended?


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Author Struggles to Stay Removed from Slave Trade

Read the complete story

(From the link above)
"With $50 and a plane ticket to Haiti, one can buy a slave. This was just one of the difficult lessons writer Benjamin Skinner learned while researching his book, A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern-Day Slavery."

"Though now illegal throughout the world, slavery is more or less the same as it was hundreds of years ago, Skinner explains...Something disturbing has changed however — the price of a human. After adjusting for inflation, Skinner found that, 'In 1850, a slave would cost roughly $30,000 to $40,000 — in other words it was like investing in a Mercedes. Today you can go to Haiti and buy a 9-year-old girl to use as a sexual and domestic slave for $50. The devaluation of human life is incredibly pronounced.'"

Slavery is alive and well in 2008...


Monday, March 10, 2008

Ben Stein Presents: "Expelled"

This video clip for the new independent film "Expelled" (produced and narrated by actor Ben Stein) is well-worth your time and attention.


I've studied extensively and even taught seminars on the evidence in favor of intelligent design, as well as the various pseudo-scientific data used to support the theory of Evolution. This film will bring some much-needed light to the back-room politics involved with those scientists who dare to question the popular opinion of the scientific community on issues of origins.

Spread the virus.


Friday, March 07, 2008


According to N.T. Wright

Full Story:


(From the first link above)
"...but conservative Christian readers often scrunch together two very different things. One is going to heaven after you die, and the other is the resurrection of the body as the final destination. Many conservatives are puzzled when I tell them that there's not very much in the New Testament about going to heaven when you die, and that where you do find material in the New Testament about going to heaven when you die, this is a temporary thing. What really matters is resurrection, or Life After Life After Death." - N.T. Wright

Now that someone of Wright's calibre has fired the opening shot I have to say that I agree with him and it has always puzzled me why so many Christians talk about "Heaven" and living eternally in a mansion on a cloud in some quasi-spiritual plane of existence.

According to the Scriptures, our ultimate destination is the New Heaven and the New Earth. The plan seems to be that Jesus comes to live with us, we don't go to live with him.

I'm pretty sure N.T. doesn't mention this other part, since I've never heard anyone else express this opinion, but it's my conviction that when we die we are all instantly transported to the Judgement Seat. I know, that's at the end of all time, yet when we die we leave the time-stream and enter the realm of Eternity which is outside of time and space.

This means, if I'm right, that when you die you'll see Napolean, Moses, Paul the Apostle, Elvis and your Grandma and all of you will look at each other and say that you've "just arrived" at that same moment...because you have.

Love to hear what others think about this...


Thursday, March 06, 2008


With the Non-Con only a week or so away I thought it was fascinating that Jackie Pullinger, one of our main session facilitators at the event, is featured in this month's issue of CHARISMA Magazine.

Take a look:

For those who would like to support Jackie Pullinger's work in China-
Tax-deductible contributions to St. Stephen's Society can be made online at or mailed to P.O. Box 952248, Lake Mary, FL 32795-2248.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Human Slavery In America - 2008

*A spin-off article from this week's [Subversive Underground]

It's very shocking to realize that human slavery is alive and well in the United States of America. Many people believe we abolished slavery as a practice hundreds of years ago, but the reality is that human trafficking is going on right now, in your city, possibly even in your neighborhood.

"The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that 50,000 people are trafficked into or transited through the U.S.A. annually as sex slaves, domestics, garment, and agricultural slaves."

"The United States is a source and destination country for thousands of men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Women and girls, largely from East Asia, Eastern Europe, Mexico and Central America are trafficked to the United States into prostitution. Some men and women, responding to fraudulent offers of employment in the United States, migrate willingly-legally and illegally-but are subsequently subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude at work sites or in the commercial sex trade. An unknown number of American citizens and legal residents are trafficked within the country primarily for sexual servitude and, to a lesser extent, forced labor."

*Read the full story linked

The link above contains a long list of recent examples of human slavery in America today. Just read through a few of those and ask yourself how this could happen in our Nation today. Ask how it escapes the notice of our media. Ask why it is not an issue in our ongoing Presidential election. Ask what you and I can do to help these people in need.

The facts are sobering. There are 27 million people around the globe who are trapped in forced labor at this very moment. Some are children between 7 and 12 years of age. Some of them are enslaved in America today, forced to work as prostitutes out of massage parlors, on the streets of your city, or even out of homes in neighborhoods like yours and mine.

Just about a year ago the Orange County Police Department broke up the largest human trafficking/forced prostitution ring in the history of this region. I remember it because it was just weeks before the Freedom Day on March 25th at Vanguard University where hundreds gathered to protest slavery and bring attention to this very real problem.

America is one of the top markets for human sexual slavery. Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, is one of the largest markets for human trafficking in the Nation.

If you want to know how you can help please visit

Monday, March 03, 2008


The Kingdom of God is the present reality which breaks into this illusion of ours intermittently, like very bad cell phone reception. It’s God’s way of saying, “Can you hear me now?”

In fact, experiencing and living in this Kingdom Reality is, in itself, an exercise in the Kingdom principles of “Letting Go” and “The Power of Weakness”. When we give up on our strength and wait for God’s power to come and to move it’s a testimony of our trust in His promise to us that “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like Eagles”, resting and gliding under the power of the wind of the Holy Spirit.

Waiting and trusting in His power, not our own, taking confidence in His strength, not ours, is a demonstration of The Power of Weakness in action.

For us, this coming, advancing, intermittent reality is counter-intuitive. We’ve been born into this illusion – falsely labeled “Reality”- and have been immersed in this do-it-yourself mentality all of our lives. We need to learn to “Re-Think” everything – or as Jesus said, to “Repent,” (Metanoia = Rethink), “for the Kingdom of God (Heaven) is near” (Or, “It is within our grasp, our reach, and close enough to touch.”)

It is very much like taking the red pill and finding ourselves wide awake in a reality which is upside down and backwards from the world we have been born into. At first we reel with the vertigo of a world where up is down and the first are last. Those who humble themselves are exalted, the greatest is the servant of all, and those who lose their lives find everlasting, eternal life, even though they die daily. This is the Kingdom of God.

Welcome to reality. Because this upside down world, we quickly discover, is NOT upside down, it is right side up. We have lived so long, head over heels, immersed in an illusion of selfish fulfillment and a pursuit of more, more, more, that we need to detoxify our minds and hearts and flesh in order to remain in God’s Kingdom Reality.

Jesus announced this Kingdom, told us how to see it, how to walk in it and remain in it, and gave us the best news possible: We could enter and begin living in Reality anytime we wanted to.

In the Kingdom of God there is just one King; God Himself. He is a good, loving, kind, and wildly, unpredictably, sometimes uncomfortably intimate, inclusive and wonderful King, and Father, and Friend.

His Kingdom is a place where His perfect will is always done and those who rest in His will are refreshed and delighted and fulfilled and at peace and overjoyed. They are children born into the poverty of excess wealth and selfishness who have been adopted into a new Family of the unending wealth of generosity and the joy of always having enough to share and give away.

This is reality. Before God made this vast oasis called “Space and Time” there was no space or time. Everything was perfectly “Now” and Eternally present with Him. This is the only reality there has ever been. God’s Kingdom was, and is, and is to come.

Our temporary stay in this unusual experiment called “Time and Space” will eventually expire and the temporary Kingdoms of this Earth will soon fade away. The Kingdom of Pleasure will fall to the ground. The Kingdom of Greed will perish. The Kingdom of Exploitation and Oppression and Excess and Fashion and Wealth and Flesh, will all crumble and burn and disappear into oblivion. Only one Kingdom will remain and that is the Kingdom which was here “In The Beginning” – which has even now come, and which we can enter today. And, one day, soon, this Kingdom will break forever into this illusion we drift through for the moment, and overtake all we see and know.

Are you ready to enter this Kingdom? Are you ready to begin living under the awesome rule and reign of The King? There’s just one thing, before you take that leap, before you swallow the red pill, that you should know, so that you can count the cost. Those who enter the Kingdom can only step across the threshold if they pay the price. It’s really nothing when you think about it, when you compare the amazing riches of God’s Eternal Kingdom with the tokens and trinkets of our counterfeit reality. The price of admission, the way to step across, is to let go of this world.

Just as you were born naked and weak and vulnerable and empty-handed into this world, so you can take nothing with you into God’s Kingdom. It’s called being “Born Again”.

The things of this world are not truly treasures. When you die they will stay here anyway, and just as you can take nothing with you beyond the grave, you can take nothing with you when you step into God’s Kingdom.

Jesus only asks for one thing- It’s called Everything.

But what you gain, what you receive in exchange, is beyond anything you can dream of or hope for or imagine. The Kingdom of God, when you see it, when you really understand it, you will gladly rush out to sell all that you have, as quickly as possible, to step across the threshold into Heaven.

This is the moment where many people stop and turn back. Their grip on this world, or its grip on them, is so strong that they can never let go of their tiny, petty lives in this place in order to receive real life and treasure in God’s Kingdom.

If we have really seen the Kingdom, if we really understood and believed that this Kingdom was real (in a way that nothing else can ever be “real”), then we would rush quickly to surrender all that we have and all that we are in order to receive the treasure that does not rust or face or disappoint.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." - Luke 9:24

“The Kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44)

All God wants is all of you. All He asks is that you Trust Him and Believe Him and surrender your meager treasures and petty personal kingdoms in exchange for His Kingdom. God wants to be your God. He wants you to be one of His People.

"If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” – Jesus (Luke 9:23). There is no other way but the Cross.

Jesus says it is very hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom.” Who then can be saved? His disciples asked. “With man this is impossible,” Jesus replied, “But not with God; all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10: 23-27)

Will you let go? Will you surrender it all? Will you seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? This is the only question we need to answer in order to step across the threshold into the amazing reality of God’s Kingdom.

You can stay here, on this side of reality, where you are safe and miserable, in your tiny kingdom where your will is what matters. Or you can sell it all, exchange the handful of crumbling mud for real treasure which lasts forever.

Is your kingdom so wonderful? Aren’t you tired of wearing the crown? Haven’t you suffered long enough under your own rule and reign?

When you are ready to set fire to your kingdom, and surrender your lordship, and dance as the flames consume your empty way of living, He is ready to invite you to experience Reality, today.

There is only One King, and He is good. He really wants what is best for you, and He can, above all, beyond any other, be Trusted. His Name is Faithful and True.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by me” – Jesus (John 14)

-Keith Giles