Wednesday, April 30, 2008

GREAT ALISTER MCGRATH QUOTE AND MP3

Spreading the MP3 love this week.

Alister McGrath, one of my favorite scholars and theologians (and author of "What Was God Doing On The Cross?") has a great rebuttal of Richard Dawkin's "God Delusion" online in the form of an MP3
FREE DOWNLOAD HERE

In this talk he has a great quote which jumped out at me:

"Faith is not something that goes against the evidence, it goes beyond it. The evidence is saying to us, 'There is another country. There is something beyond mere reason'." - Alister McGrath

Download that puppy and gorge your mind and spirit on the frightful goodness of his unbearable wisdom and wit.

-kg

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

WHAT I REALLY BELIEVE

Over the weekend I began reflecting on the importance of being a difference in the lives of people around us.

Our house church, The Mission, is founded on the principle that all of us as followers of Jesus are called to be missionaries in our community, our workplace, our neighborhood and our culture. As such, this means we are expected to make disciples, to live extravagant lives of intentional kindness and to demonstrate the Kingdom to people around us in tangible ways.

As I meditated on this I had to stop and ask myself, Am I discipling anyone? Am I in relationship with anyone for the hope of bringing them to Jesus? Am I actively praying for my neighbors and co-workers and friends to discover the Kingdom?

The only person I am currently discipling is my oldest son, Dylan (12) and perhaps a few of the people in our house church. Is that enough? Should I be doing more?

At my new job as a copywriter for a large technology distributor I have started to develop several friendships. We've had some amazing conversations over lunch, now and again, but is that enough? Should I be doing more?

I've especially been convicted that I need to pray more often for those who are part of our house church family. As their pastor it's my spiritual duty to spend time praying for their spiritual development, their marriages, their walk with Christ and their individual mission to reflect Jesus to those around them.

THE PLANK IN MY OWN EYE
I can be very critical of local mega-churches who lead 250 people to Christ at Easter and then forget to disciple them, (and I do feel that this is a serious blind spot for many traditional churches today), but then I have to ask myself how many did I lead to Christ this year? How many did I disciple?

As I ask myself these hard questions I realize that my focus should be on what I am doing, or not doing, not on what my sisters and brothers "over there" are doing....or not doing.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER
I have realized that we put feet to the things we really have faith in. To paraphrase the second chaper of James, "Show me what you're actually doing each day and I'll show you what you really believe in your heart of hearts".

Do my actions give away my deepest values? Yes, they do...and that may be the most frightening realization of all; That I am already actively living out my real "Faith" every moment of every day. What do my actions say about what I really value and hold to be true? Do the words I speak and the actions I take line up as they should?

If I really believe that God has filled me with His Holy Spirit and that He desires to reveal Himself to people around me, then I will actively cooperate with God to share His love with them. Not just be nice to them (which is a great start), but actually pray for God to give me the words to say and to know the best way to speak Truth into their lives.

WHY WE NEED EACH OTHER
The purpose of our house church gatherings should be to help each other live out our calling to love others, serve others and be ambassadors of Christ. We need to be encouraged and to be reminded of what this life of faith is for. We must bear one another's burdens. We must hold one another accountable for the calling we have responded to.

I've heard from some friends lately about some horrific behavior within their churches, things that I won't even share here out of respect for those who have been so abused and shamed and persecuted. This is not the way the Family of God is meant to be. We are called to lift one another up, to pray for one another and to support one another as we do our best to follow Jesus each and every day of our lives.

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." - 1 Cor 12:27

More later...

kg

TODD HUNTER: THREE IS ENOUGH MP3

Todd Hunter gave a great talk last Thursday concerning the state of Christianity in America today and what he feels we can do to change things for the better.

This was a very inspiring session and it's now available as a free MP3 download over at my podcast page on ITunes.

IF YOU USE ITUNES: GO TO [SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] PODCAST
You can find Todd Hunter's "Three Is Enough" mp3 for free on ITunes under my [Subversive Underground] podcast page (which also has all 3 Non-Con messages).


IF YOU DON'T USE ITUNES: DOWNLOAD FOR FREE
HERE

Whether you use IMac or Ipod or PC, the free ITunes player will work on your computer. There's no charge to download ITunes.

Todd has some great things to share about the state of Christianity in America and his vision to help people to re-imagine their daily life in a Kingdom perspective.

Watch this podcast page for more podcasts to come...

-kg

Monday, April 28, 2008

WHAT ABOUT THE RAPTURE?

A friend of mine asked me via email today what my take on the Rapture was. She was curious because her opinion didn't seem to match the vast majority of church-going Christians she was talking to and she was curious what my take on the subject would be.

PROPHECY IN GENERAL
I always begin these sorts of conversations about End Times and Prophecy by making the observation that, if we're close-minded and dogmatic about issues of Prophecy we are in danger of falling into the same trap that the religious leaders of Jesus' day fell into.

The Pharisee and other Jewish leaders of the day actually missed the FIRST COMING of the Messiah because he didn't fit their preconceived theories. The Messiah was right in front of them and they couldn't see him because he didn't come in the form or fashion that they had decided ahead of time he needed to arrive in.

GOD LOVES TO COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES
If we hold tightly to our version of End Times Prophecy I feel like we could do the same thing again - miss the Messiah's coming in our time.

The prophetic scriptures found in Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Revelations are all very cryptic and open to multiple interpretations. This is not an accident. God could have easily said, "The Anti-Christ will arrive seventy years after the Nation of Israel is re-established following a War of the Nations and he will have red hair and his name will be Conan O'Brien"...for example.

But, God did not choose to communicate the details of End Times events in this straight-forward, plain Hebrew (or Greek...or English) format. God purposely veiled much of the prophetic details in figurative, metaphorical and difficult to decipher terminology. Why did He do that?

MY CRAZY THEORY
I believe that the prophetic words spoken of in the Scriptures are not meant to give us advance knowledge of when or how things are going to turn out in the future.

"Really? Then what are these prophecies for?" I can hear you asking.

Well, I believe that these passages are for those who are living through the actual events at the moment, primarily. When you are living through something that God has prophesied in advance, and you suddenly realize as you're reading the Scriptures that what is happening at the moment is a fulfillment of that prophecy, you are instantly comforted and filled with hope because you know that God is in control of everything.

I also believe that the purpose of those propecies is for those who live after the events have taken place. It gives them the perspective of knowing that God spoke the prophetic word hundreds, or thousands, of years ago and then fulfilled His promises just as He said He would, but in a way that none of us saw coming. That gives us hope in the present and builds our faith for the future.

So, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, on the day that the sacrificial lamb was traditionally chosen for the upcoming Passover, and the people began laying down palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!", it was pretty obvious to most who were standing around that they were living through something that had been prophesied hundreds of years previously.

When the disciples reflected back on the words of Jesus, and on the events of His crucifixion, they realized just how much of what they had just lived through had been prophesied in advance...but not until after it had already taken place! This strengthened their faith and provided evidence for God's hand in everything that had happened.

So, I believe that we will not ever know exactly what the great dragon with seven heads and ten horns is referring to until either
A) Just as it is being fulfilled or
B) A few months after it has already taken place

Why? Because that is the pattern we see regarding prophecy throughout Scripture.

If that's the pattern we see, and if these things we're debating (Rapture, Tribulation, The Beast, The Whore of Babylon, etc.) aren't clear to us, then we should not be dividing over our opinions of these things.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE RAPTURE
Another reason I find discussions of End Times Prophecy to be counter productive and pointless is that these arguments distract us from what we are actually commanded by our Lord Jesus to be doing - Following Him with our lives, loving others, making disciples and baptizing new believers.

One frightening tendency I see in many of those who are caught up in the End Times Prophetic movement is their amazing lack of inactivity and their attitude of "duck and cover". Most are just waiting for Jesus to come back "any day now" and smite those Heathen and take them home to Glory! (Halleluiah)

I always have to caution people to make sure their focus is on how they are following Jesus today...right now, not about when or how or in what way Jesus is supposed to come again.

We can get so hung up on the signs of the times and our version of the Rapture, the End Times, etc. that we forget to live our lives here and now.

THE DANGER OF MISUNDERSTANDING
Let's imagine what it would have been like for us as Christians if we had lived in Nazi Germany during WW2.

We would have seen an Anti-Christ figure rounding up God's Chosen people and putting them to death with a Satanic power and influence over the masses. We would've experienced imposed persecution and poverty because of this oppression. It would have nearly impossible for us to read Revelation and Ezekiel and Daniel and not conclude, beyond any reasonable doubt that this must be the end times. (At least, that's what I would've assumed).

But...we would have been very wrong about that.

It was horrific, and Hitler was a "type" of Anti-Christ, and a lot of the prophecies in the Old and New Testaments appear to have been fulfilled concerning the persecution of the Church...but they were not.

We could be living in the End Times today...but it could also be several generations away.

OUR EXAMPLE IS THE EARLY CHURCH
I look at the early Church, the one in the New Testament, and I see them living expectantly concerning the imminent return of Christ, and yet they all shared a daily determination to be found in the act of obeying Jesus and serving Him through the ministry of compassion towards others at the same time.

Our hope in the return of Jesus cannot paralyze us to be passive and wait for the Rapture to come and for Jesus to rescue us and judge these heathen people. The earliest Christians were a great model for us to follow. They expected Jesus to return at any moment, and yet they were loving and forgiving and outwardly involved in expressing the tangible love of Jesus to people in their community every single day.

RAPTURE OR NOT?
Whether or not I am to be Raptured in my lifetime, or if I die an old man, my calling and my mission are the same - to follow Jesus with all that is within me and to live a life of outward compassion towards those who are made in the image of God.

When it comes to the popular teaching concerning the End Times- that we will be Raptured before any persecution comes- I have to say that it doesn't seem to fit what I read in Scripture.

Having said that, let me add two more things:
1) For me to hold my position and argue with other Christians about it is just as bad as what they're doing, at least in my opinion. The whole dogmatic, "I'm right and you're wrong" thing just doesn't get us anywhere, I believe.

2) The issue of the End Times is about more than just The Rapture, it's actually about what your idea of "Heaven" is...and most of the Church has that completely backwards.

WHAT ABOUT HEAVEN?
I recently wrote an article here that was a reaction to a new book by celebrated theologian and scholar N.T. Wright about how most Christians take their understanding of Heaven from a cultural mythology (meaning, we made it up) and from John Milton's "Paradise Lost" --not from the Bible.

Most Christians believe we're going to be Raptured and then spend Eternity in a wispy, cloudy, spiritual realm filled with singing, harps and gold-encrusted mansions...far away from here.

THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF HEAVEN, AND WHAT COMES AFTER
The Bible teaches that God will come here to live with us, we will not "go there" to live with Him.

Revelation 21 and Isaiah 65 both describe a final reality where God creates a New Heaven and a New Earth...and we live on the New Earth with Jesus as our Eternal King. We will not live in a spiritual reality in ghostly bodies and strum harps, etc. We will have bodies which will be as solid as the ones we have now (or as solid as the body Jesus had at His Resurrection), and we will live in a brand-new physical reality which will be this same Earth, but re-made.

Rather than re-type the whole thing I'll direct you to the article and let you look for yourself.
Here:

IN CONCLUSION
I am totally ok with everyone studying the prophetic scriptures and doing their best to understand them as much as possible. What I do strongly caution is that we do not cause arguments or divisions in the Body of Christ over differences in opinion (because there's a very good chance that we're all wrong). I also strongly advise that, whatever our perspective regarding the End Times we do not allow our opinions of escatology to paralyze our individual walk with Jesus or distract us from our daily dying to self.

peas,
kg

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tisha B'Av

Tisha B'Av is the ninth day (Tisha) of the Jewish month of Av and it is called the "saddest day in Jewish history".

Why?

Because the destruction of the first Jewish Temple and the destruction of the second Jewish Temple both occurred on this same exact day - 656 years apart.

Does anyone else find that fascinating?

Coincidence?

I think not...

Perhaps God was trying to send a message to His people about the fact that He is in control of even the bad things we experience in our lives?

Who knows? I guess trying to second guess God on these things isn't the point, but still...the temple destroyed twice, on the same day, 656 years apart?

Amazing.

kg

Thursday, April 24, 2008

WHAT REMAINS - ONLINE GALLERY



Photos from Saturday's opening night celebration featuring art from my friends Heather Wright, Scott Laumann and Bill Burgess are online now
RIGHT HERE

Enjoy!

kg

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Constantine: The Father of Our Faith

Although Constantine was not a church member, or leader, or pastor, or teacher his influence on the Christian church today is equal, if not greater than, that of Paul the Apostle and even Jesus Himself.

As the first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine declared himself to be a Christian at the age of 40, although he put his own sons to death and killed his wife because his mother wanted him to. He also beat his own sister for her worship of Jesus.

Constantine hated the crucifix because it showed Jesus in a place of weakness. For him, the cross was a sign of power and he had no understanding of Jesus as a suffering servant, preferring instead to fashion a triumphant, powerful version of Jesus who would bless his bloody escapades as a warrior and a conquerer.

Even though he publicly declared himself to be Christian, Constantine also continued to hold the title of "Pontifex Maximus" which signified his leadership of the pagan priesthood.

Why did the Church allow a man who held the title of High Priest in the Pagan Temple to influence the way they worshipped and practiced their faith?

Maybe it was because he was their largest financial supporter? Or because he ended the brutal persecutions of his predecessors? Or because he gave them non-profit, tax-exempt status in the Empire? Maybe it was because he promoted several of the clergy to high-ranking offices within the Empire? Or because he built large temples for them to worship in?

Whatever the reason, Constantine was allowed to dictate to the Church how and when and where they would worship God. Instead of meeting in the home and sharing a meal together, Constantine mandated that Christians meet in the pagan temples which he had provided for them. Instead of a shared and open dialog of faith, Constantine instituted a liturgy which looked very much like that of the pagan's, and of the Roman Empire itself. Worship services were presided over by the clergy who held power much like a king or an emperor. The members of the church were no longer treated as dearly loved members of a family but were treated as peasants to be taxed (via the tithe) and ruled over like subjects.

To this day the Christian church continues to meet in the same pagan temple system, with a select clergy held in honor as small kings who rule over the people and maintain the building, and their own livelihood, via the taxing of the peasants via the tithe.

Many who are Christians today aren't even aware of the influence that Constantine had on their faith and continue to read the New Testament as if the references to "Church" and "worship" found there corresponds to the sort of church life they experience.

I've only realized these things myself in the last few years, having been a Christian now for over 30 years and even licensed and ordained as a minister of the Gospel, this news unsettles me.

Many, like me, who have come to realize these facts can only stand back and ask, "What now?"

Honestly, I am not exactly sure what to do, other than what I've already done which is step outside the traditional church and to begin to re-discover the family-based, Jesus-inspired, shared Koinonia of House Church.

I don't do this to condemn my family and friends who are still part of traditonal church. I do not write this to smear the Bride of Christ. I simply write this to share what I have learned and to communicate my personal response.

Those who remain in the traditional church are as loved by God as anyone else is. I have nothing but love and respect for the pastors and members of traditional denominational churches around the world. Without them I wouldn't have come this far. None of us would.

But, if you knew there was a way to facilitate community and encourage participation and inspire followers of Jesus to live out their faith in brand new, exciting ways, why would you oppose it? Especially if this was something supported by the New Testament and proven by the exponential growth of the Church throughout the world via the simple, organic model of house church?

I acknowledge that, thus far, Constantine has had a fantastic amount of influence over the Church. But my hope is that we would allow Jesus to lead us once again. My hope is that we would humble ourselves before Jesus and daily die to ourselves to follow Him and to love Him and to love others as He commanded us.

It's time for a Church that is more like Jesus than it is like Constantine.

-kg

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thursday Night - Todd Hunter

Todd Hunter, a long time friend and mentor of mine, will be hosting a night of vision this Thursday night at Triangle Square at 7 pm.

NOTE: This will be in the same room where we had our Non-Con last month.

ABOUT THIS SPECIAL NIGHT-
Recently Todd left ALPHA USA to start his own Non-Profit ministry "Society for Kingdom Living" which aims to explore a holistic approach to missional evangelism and spiritual formation. He will be sharing the vision for this new Kingdom-focused non-profit and also to share from his new book coming soon from Intervarsity on re-imagining the Christian life.

ABOUT TODD HUNTER:
Todd has previously served as the president of Alpha USA, an organization that focuses on motivating and equipping Christians to connect with unbelievers, and as the president of the National Association of Vineyard Churches Todd was afforded the “mega-church” experience as well as the opportunity to observe a historic renewal movement up close.

Todd has worked with many individuals and organizations including Alleon, Off The Map, Emergent, Soul Survivor, and various church planters who want to shape their ministries around a kingdom-based, missional encounter with contemporary realities.

**

Todd Hunter has been a significant influence on my life in various ways, including my personal epiphany regarding the Gospel of the Kingdom.

In many ways, Todd Hunter is an apostle. God has given him influence over many pastors and he has fathered several churches throughout his years with Vineyard, Allelon, Soul Survivor, Alpha and now Society for Kingdom Living.

This will be an important time to hear what God has placed on his heart for us and for this geographic region.

I hope to see you there!

This Thursday Evening at 7pm -

at Soul Survivor Church (Triangle Square)
1870 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627

*Directly underneath the Edwards Cinema, on the corner of Harbor and 19th

THERE'S AN ONLINE GOOGLE MAP FEATURE
HERE

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Final Days of the America Empire?

Gas prices are soaring, the economy is in free fall, the housing market has crashed, Wall Street is a roller coaster, the American dollar is becoming the new Peso, and now...we're rationing food?

Yes we are. Read it
HERE

FOOD RATIONING CONFRONTS THE BREADBASKET OF THE WORLD?
(FROM THE ARTICLE LINKED ABOVE)
"Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing."

"Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are also anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks."

As I contemplate our slouching towards the sunset of our fair Empire I can't help but reflect on this passage of prophecy from Revelation and wonder, if the fall of Babylon were to happen this week, what is the most likely nation to qualify as "Babylon" here? Is it America? Haven't we recently conquered the physical Babylon (which is geographically Iraq)? Are we the spiritual equivalent of Babylon today?

Decide for yourself...


"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more— cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.

"They will say, 'The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.' The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment.

"Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, 'Was there ever a city like this great city?' They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out.."


-Full Text is found in Revelation 18:1-24

What other nation could disappear today and be so mourned over? Are we (The United States of America) not the world's largest consumers of the World's goods? (Electronics, Clothing, Spices, Automobiles, etc.)

Either way, repentance is a good response to the crisis our nation faces today.

kg

Friday, April 18, 2008

Jesus Revealed In The Passover Seder

Last night our house church, The Mission, enjoyed our very first Passover Seder dinner together. It was so amazing.

I've posted some pictures over at the Mission blog
HERE

We couldn't have done this without the incredible sacrifice and servanthood of our dear sisters in Christ, Betsy and Candy.

What's even more amazing is that Wendy and I only met these two amazing ladies last Sunday--for the very first time.

And yet, they came to our home, set up these tables, donated their finest china, printed up the Seder books for each place setting, came early to set up, carried out the food to serve us, went from person to person with a bowl and towels to wash our hands, washed dishes in the kitchen while we ate, and cleaned everything up afterwards.

This is the amazing love of God. This is what it means to be part of a larger Family of God.

Even though we barely know these women, they loved us all enough to come and to serve us and to bless our socks off, just because we're brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Betsy and Candy are both part of my friend Marti Clark's home church. They graciously made our amazing Passover Seder possible and we cannot wait to serve them in return someday soon.

The Seder itself was phenomenal. Several times my wife and I had to pause to hold back our tears as we were touched by God's love for us and by His incredible wisdom, revealed within the Seder itself.

To me one of the most profound things was knowing that thousands of years ago, God gave the Jewish people a command to celebrate this dinner on a specific date each year. Thousands of years later he fulfilled His promise to them by sacrificing Himself on the cross - the very same day.

Not only that, but at 3pm that same day, when Christ cried out "It Is Finished", the Jews customarily blow the shofar trumpet and sacrifice the passover lamb.

Incredible stuff.

-kg

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Join The Movement

The truth is, all anyone can do is to join the movement, no one can actually start one. At least, not on purpose anyway.

If you look back over history, at religion, politics, and the arts you find numerous movements which impacted the culture and society. Most of them, if not all, were not originally designed to be movements, they were simply the spontaneous, synergistic developments which came about because the words, or the actions, or the combined societal zeitgeist converged to bring about a sudden, sweeping change within the culture.

Most of the time, whenever you hear someone say, "I want to start a movement" you can bet on one thing: They will not start a movement.

They might start a business, or a trend, or a temporary ripple within a small segment or subculture, but the rest of the world will hardly notice.

When Luther nailed his treatise to the door, he was not attempting to start a movement. He was hoping to change the way people practiced their faith.

When Jackson Pollock dribbled paint on the canvas and created art without a brush, he was not attempting to start a movement. He was trying to end years of frustration with his own artistic expression and scratch an itch that existing methods of art couldn't touch.

When Jesus walked to the cross, he was not attempting to start a movement. He was attempting to please the Father and to demonstrate to his disciples what love really was.

Did these men inspire movements? Yes. Did they start out with the plan to create a movement? No. Their focus was simply to do what they were born to do. The movement was a byproduct of their obedience to their own inner desire to create, to educate, and to demonstrate the beauty and the truth that only they could see at the moment.

So, if you're planning to start a movement, here's my advice: Don't.

Instead, just be who God made you to be and pursue that calling with everything inside of you.

Your destiny is to run the race that has been laid out before you. Don't miss your chance to be yourself.

-kg

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What Remains - This Saturday



Three of my favorite artists, and good friends Heather Wright, Scott Laumann and Bill Burgess (image above) will be showing original works of art for an exclusive 2 week show at The Artery in Costa Mesa, California.

If you're in the area be sure to come and join in the fun this Saturday night at 7pm.

Bill Burgess will be playing his own brand of eclectronica live between 7:30 and 8:30pm so you don't want to miss that, do ya?

Of course you don't.

The ARTery Gallery @ The LAB
2930 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

This Saturday night - April 19th
7pm to 9pm

See ya there!
kg

Jesus in the Pulpit

This week's [Subversive Underground] will be about something that's been on my mind since our Non-Con last month.

Another blog post today by a fellow Kingdom-minded writer sparked my desire to respond to this in a more definite way.

Basically, it pains me to hear Christians say that they've never heard about the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached, or to quote Jesus to someone and have them look at me as if they've never heard that before in their life.

What are our Pastor's preaching every Sunday? How can we be a generation, and a nation, of Christians who are unfamiliar with the teachings and the message of Jesus?

My friend whose blog inspired me this morning commented that he has experienced this same lack of understanding regarding Jesus and His message. He noted that most Christians seem to know a whole lot about Paul and the teachings found in the Epistles, but not so much about the Gospels and the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.

Imagine meeting a Muslim who had no real concept of what Muhammed taught? Or meeting a Jew who had no understanding of what Moses said or did? In what way would that person be a Muslim, or a Jew?

How can we call ourselves "Christians" if we have no concept of who Jesus was and what he taught?

We've made being a Christian about knowing stuff and believing information, not about what Jesus made it all about which was following him.

Maybe that's why I have a hard time calling myself a "Christian"? Because more and more I am being convinced that a Christian and a Follower of Jesus are not the same thing.

More in this week's [Subversive Underground], coming soon...

kg

Monday, April 14, 2008

Partnering For Tomorrow

I've had two (seemingly) divergent threads of thought recently regarding the idea of partnering with other like-minded people in this geographic region for Kingdom purposes.

First, after the Non-Con I had a meeting with Tommy Nixon of Solidarity Rising and then an email from my friend Max McGee of Saddleback church regarding unrelated ideas of partnering together to achieve a common goal.

I began to wonder if all of us weren't after the same thing but pursuing different means to accomplish a small piece of the same plan.

Tommy was interested (as I have been) in finding ways to help local Orange County believers see the Kingdom and begin a lifestyle of mission and service to others (as opposed to undertaking occassional mission trips to serve for a day, etc.).

Max was interested in partnering together to find ways to train and inspire local churches and small group leaders to begin to adopt local poverty motels (as Max and I have done with our house churches/home groups).

My other friend, Jarred Rowland, is also interested in finding partners to help him raise awareness about poverty in Orange County but he wants to publish a subversive magazine that would provoke response and put a face to the invisible poor in this area.

My friend Scott Laumann and I had a similar idea about 4 years ago but never got the idea off the ground. Now that Jarred has started moving forward it appears that we've found our missing, catalytic piece of this puzzle.

Yesterday my wife and I took our boys to another house church to share about poverty in Orange County with them, and leaders from a second house church. Afterwards I shared with Marti Clark (my friend from ALPHA USA who also lead one of our Non-Con workshops) about the possibility of partnering together with her house church, and the one lead by Van and Joyce Pewthers in Placentia, for future ministry and service opportunities.

Somehow all of these open doors to partner with others is connected. I know it. I'm just not sure, exactly, yet how.

I keep hearing that verse in my head where Jesus says that he only does what he sees the Father doing. This feels a bit like that. I can see that the Father is up to something...but I'm not exactly sure what just yet.

In (seemingly) unrelated news, my friend and mentor (of sorts) Todd Hunter is in town next Thursday evening. Marti and I will be gathering our house churches, alongside Soul Survivor church and the Pewther's house church group to hear him share about his vision for helping followers in Orange County to un-learn how to be Christian.

Hmmm....maybe these things aren't so unrelated after all?

kg

Friday, April 11, 2008

CONSTANTINE AND THE MODERN CHURCH

If you want to blow your mind and challenge your idea of what the modern Church is up to I'd recommend reading a little on Emperor Constantine. I picked up the book "Constantine, The Great" by Michael Grant on sale at Barnes and Noble a while back and it is a real eye-opening book about how the modern church was shaped by this one person. Fascinating stuff, and a little disturbing to be honest.

Barna and Viola have re-published "Pagan Christianity" recently which I am sure contains a lot of the same ideas as what I discovered by reading about the History of the early church and what Constantine did to shape our modern Christian practice.

What's fascinating to me is that, even after Constantine stepped in and protected the Christians, gave them the pagan temples to worship in, and stopped the persecutions, many kept meeting in homes and Constantine actually had to make it illegal for them to keep doing this in order to funnel believers into his new way of meeting.

I've not written anything yet on the effects of Constantine on the practice of the modern Church, but this is a pretty fascinating subject for me.

I mean, yes, God has used this form of church for over 1,700 years now. And, yes, God certainly "allowed" this change to take place and to remain up until this very day, predominantly around the world...but it still troubles me that our modern forms of worship are built upon setting up a
royal clergy, handing them a castle, creating a peasant congregation for them to "tax" and support the royalty and the upkeep of the castle, etc.

This just doesn't seem right to me...or Biblical either.

We try to make connections between this modern form of church and the OT synagogue/temple form of worship...but clearly this was not Constantine's intention. He simply removed pagan priests and installed Christian "priests", adding a cross to the back of the room and changing the subject
of the worship to God.

So, to this very day, we have a paganized form of Christianity? I guess I never noticed before, but now it does trouble me. Every Christian Holiday is a Christianization of a pagan feast or holiday, (not a jewish one...except for Pentecost and Passover), and I'm not so sure that Constantine himself
really "got it". At least according to the book I'm reading now. Constantine had a problem with the crucifixion, rebuked his own sister for worshiping Jesus, and mainly wanted to re-define God as a warlike "Zeus" figure, a god of war and power and victory, not a God who, as Jesus suggested, was like Him, a loving, compassionate, merciful God.

Honestly, these ideas disturb me. What do I do with them? How do I reconcile these thoughts in my own head?

I'm really still grappling with these thoughts and trying to understand how to communicate the truth of what I'm learning with the Grace and Love that God expects of me.

More later...

Keith Giles

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Breaking Radio Silence

Work has kept me insanely busy lately so I've not been posting here quite as often as I'd like.

Sorry.

I have posted stuff over at The Mission house church blog on "Rules of Engagement" which sort of qualifies as an article, I guess. It's
RIGHT HERE

This week's [Subversive Underground] was on the simple invitation of Jesus to just follow Him. I'm not sure I really got the exact idea down that has been on my heart lately, but it's a good start.

So, here's what's been going on this week with me...other than writing copy for technology reseller websites and stuff.

DISCIPLING DYLAN
My oldest son, Dylan Lee, is 12 years old. He will be a teenager in December. I've been very concerned lately about discipling him and making sure that he crosses the threshold into pre-adulthood with a firm grasp of The Kingdom of God, the heart of Jesus and a sense of his place within God's Kingdom.

So, last night he and I had dinner together at Panda Express (yum!) and we talked about the first chapter of the book of James. Our plan is to read one chapter at a time and meet together a few times each week to discuss the scripture and what it means to us. After we finish the book of James he and I are going to go through my book, "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" since it deals with discipleship and developing a personal idea of what it means to follow Jesus with your actual life. For now this is my plan. I'll try to update everyone on how this goes. So far it's amazing to see how smart my son is and how much he already understands. It's also great to connect with him over these ideas.

Next I'll have to develop a plan for my youngest son, David Michael, who is 10 years old.

PRAYING IN TONGUES
About two years ago God gave me the gift of praying in tongues. It wasn't something I asked for, or really even wanted, but out of the clear blue one night God downloaded this gift into my brain, or spirit, what have you, and now I can pray this way. It's weird, but very cool.

I prayed this morning, around 5am, for several in our house church who are going through hard times. As I was praying for them in tongues God began to show me things about what was causing their difficulties and gave me some direction on how to encourage each of them. Very cool.

More later...work beckons.

kg
"Christianity is the story of how the rightful King has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage."
--C.S. Lewis

Friday, April 04, 2008

PLANTING A NEW HOUSE CHURCH?

Those of you who joined us at the Non-Con know what an incredible blessing it was to be reminded of God's heart for the poor, our calling to live a Jesus kind of life, and our need to daily seek God's strength and guidance.

On the Sunday after the Non-Con we got to encourage my friend's Daniel and Heather Cosby who drove down from Washington to come to the Non-Con and to visit our house church, The Mission.

Heather and Daniel are both feeling called to plant a house church where they live, near Seattle. It was awesome to pray over them and encourage them to take those first few steps towards this adventure. They are feeling the pain of rejection from many of their friends and family right now (which, unfortunately seems to be part of this birthing process for many) and they are in need of our prayer support and encouragement going forward.

Daniel asked if we could think of their new house church as a sister church to The Mission, which of course I agreed to. So, he will be updating us on their progress and giving us direction about how we can pray for them and encourage them as they step out.

Check out their blog too:

HERE

Keep them in your prayers as they move forward in this new adventure.

peas,
kg

Thursday, April 03, 2008

INDIA - Short Indie Film

My good friend Dean Krueger went to India and made this amazing short film set to music by my other friend, David Ruis.

It's powerful stuff and worth your 4 and a half minutes of time.

Watch
Here


Say a prayer for the starving children who go to sleep hungry tonight, and every night, around the world.

kg

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What Remains - A Celebration of Survival

Our Non-Con artist panel will be headlining an amazing art show on April 19th at the Artery Gallery in the Anti-Mall/Lab in Costa Mesa.

"WHAT REMAINS" FEATURING ARTISTS:
*HEATHER WRIGHT
*SCOTT LAUMANN
*BILL BURGESS
*ANDREW DUNN.

2 WEEKS EXCLUSIVE ENGAGEMENT STARTS APRIL 19TH AT THE ARTERY GALLERY.

I am so excited to announce that three of the most gifted artists I personally know will all be together in the same gallery space at the same time. This will be so amazing!

Links to Heather, Scott and Bill's websites are at the lower left-hand navbar.

Don't miss this one.

kg