Thursday, February 26, 2009

RE-POST: DO YOU FEEL YOURSELF SHRINKING?

"And John replied, 'He must increase, but I must decrease.'" John 3:30 (NIV)

Do you feel yourself shrinking? Do you feel Christ becoming more and more "at large" in your life? I don't. If anything, I feel the opposite. Most of my day is filled with the pursuit of my wants and concerns about my needs, thinking about my plans, and praying about my dreams.

Jesus? Oh, He's there. But He's not taking over. More and more I'm starting to realize that I really want Him to take over. I need Him to take over.

What I need is for Christ to permeate my life. I need to sense his presence all the time. I need to hear his voice. I need to know his heart for people. I need to take His words to heart and start living them out in my actual life.

When you reach this point in your life, you begin to realize the simple power and wisdom of the Spiritual Disciplines. Suddenly the idea of fasting and observing silence and simplicity become things that your very soul craves.

To many of us, the idea of Spiritual Discipline sounds like a means to take away our freedom in Christ. A way to drag us down and force us to observe the Law. That's not what the Disciplines are all about.

Sure, some churches and more than a few leaders, have misused the Disciplines in the past. Sometimes we can allow others to place their expectations of perfection upon us and bind us up in the pursuit of an outward appearance of Holiness.

But, when a follower of Christ reaches the place where they realize that their flesh is much too weak, even when their spirit is most willing, the Disciplines become an escape route from the bondage of sinfulness.

The Spiritual Disciplines are like turning the spoon away from your own mouth and using it to dig a tunnel under the fence of sin and into the sunlight of freedom.

Jesus' parable of the Pearl Of Great Price (Matthew 13:44), where those who find a great treasure joyfully run out and sell everything in order to get it, is a great picture of what our attitude should be. We're not to worry about how much the pearl costs, we should be worried that we might not be able to sell things fast enough to get the money to buy that pearl.

When we truly understand just how utterly fantastic God's Kingdom really is, as compared to our own kingdom, then the idea of giving up time and food and money and worldly success is nowhere near as precious.

Jesus has some pretty strong words for those who call themselves by His name in Luke chapter 14, verse 27. He says "..Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple."

Taking up my cross means my own death. It means the end of my personal kingdom and the beginning of His.

My prayer is that God would give me the strength to daily deny myself, take up my cross and follow Him. I want to go where He's going. I want to walk with Him.

What will it cost me? My car? My house? My dreams? My job? Great. What else? I want to kick my kingdom to the ground and dance while it burns.

I'm ready to follow Him now. "He must increase, I must decrease."

Do you feel yourself shrinking?

By Keith Giles

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

THINGS I NEED TO DO RIGHT AWAY

*Schedule time to finish writing my book & create proof copy
*Schedule time to disciple my sons individually once a week
*Schedule time to sit quietly and listen to God's voice daily
*Finish Dylan's "Coming of Age" Book of encouraging quotes & self-publish
*Do our taxes
*Compile a book of my best poems and self-publish
*Compile my [Subversive Interviews] and self-publish
*Compile my articles on Compassion and Poverty and self-publish
*Watch "Flight of the Conchords" DVD's
*Finish reading, "Altered Carbon", "From Eternity to Here", "The History of Christianity Vol.1", "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus", "Star Wars:Dark Empire I & II", and "Reimagning Church".

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

DANGER: This Will Make You Smile



Special thanks to Brant Hansen for sharing this with the world.

My friend Scott Laumann and I used to talk about creating a series of Kinkaid-style paintings of the homeless and heroin-addicts passed out on the sidewalk with this Disney-esque hue all around.

This is full of awesome.

kg

Monday, February 23, 2009

LAST NIGHT'S OSCARS & MORE

A few random thoughts to share...

WATCHING THE OSCARS: ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER

Watching the Oscars last night and I loved how the nominees for best actor and actress were each honored individually by past Oscar winners. It brought most of them to tears as they were singled out and honored for their talents and gifts. Even those who didn't win were given a moment in the spotlight and were encouraged and affirmed in their art, their ability and their talent.

I suppose it doesn't matter if you're Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep, or Joe Nobody - When someone publicly affirms you and values you and points out your unique qualities, your heart is filled and you feel loved.

Can't help thinking that this is what our churches should be like. We should take the time to stand in front of everyone and point out the best in one another and value each other as equals within a special family and revel in the exclusive club we are all blessed to be a part of.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" - 1 John 3:1

**
CREATIVE FORCES

Over the weekend some friends got together and shared poetry, stories, artwork, and songs together. I was overwhelmed to discover the intense creativity within each person who shared. Most of it was breath-taking and excellent. None of it was cheesy or half-hearted.

We laughed, we wiped away tears, we applauded, and we were genuinely amazed at the amount of talent embodied in that room.

Everyone agreed that it was better than church, but that it was, in essence, "Church".

I also loved that no one asked me to lead in prayer, or to get things started, or to facilitate anything. It was refreshing to "be the Church" and not be the guy in charge at all.

We're looking forward to doing it again soon.

**
FULL CIRCLE?

About six years ago I was at Ingram Micro, hating my technical spreadsheet job and writing sci-fi stories and creating comics to fulfill my creative side. I eventually left that job to enter "full-time ministry" and go on-staff at a church-plant and a local non-profit. About the same time, I also stepped away from my sci-fi/creative stuff and started writing for the Kingdom, which is where this whole Subversive blog and weekly [SU] e-newsletter thing started.

After 3 years of working for non-profit and churches, I realized that what I wanted was to get a real job in the real world, start a house church where 100% of the offering could go to the poor, and let my "full-time ministry" be my life.

So, I started that house church and went to work again for Ingram Micro again, this time as a copywriter in their marketing department. Now I love my job working with regular, everyday people. I have also felt recently that I need to lay down my [SU] e-newsletter (which have produced 2 books and hundreds of articles), in order to start pursuing more creative writing like poetry, fiction and yes, even sci-fi.

Is my life going full circle or am I simply going in circles?

**

Friday, February 20, 2009

ALL CHRISTIANS ARE PRIESTS OF GOD

By W.C.Ketcherside

There is no priesthood in God's program now but that which is common to all Christians. That which makes one a Christian makes him a priest of God. The literal priesthood has been supplanted by the spiritual; the limited has been succeeded by the universal. Yet the religious world has been captivated by a special clergy.

Designate it what you will, this is but a limited priesthood, arrogating to itself those rights which belong to all. Nothing is more certain than the fact that the average religionist believes that this special group of ministerial functionaries is a product of New Testament teaching. Yet it is apparent that the system which produces them is a denial of the very essence of the New Covenant and an espousal of the program of the Old Covenant. Those who seek justification for a special priesthood in this dispensation are also seeking to be justified by the law and are fallen from grace.

The time of reformation has come. It has brought with it certain changes. Those changes must be recognized. To deny them or abrogate them is to flout God's purpose.

1. There has been a change of sacrifice. The animal sacrifices once required are no longer demanded. To offer such sacrifices now would be to crucify the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame.

2. There has been a change of law. No longer are we subject to the "regulations for worship in the earthly sanctuary" (Heb. 9:1). The law had "but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities" (Heb. 10:1). The man who chooses to be justified by the law shows a preference for a shadow rather than the reality.

3. There has been a change of priesthood. The limited has given way to the universal. With the introduction of the priesthood of all believers, no particular class or caste has an exclusive right "to perform ritual duties." Indeed it is one of the absolute essentials to priesthood that each person who is a priest "have something to offer" (Heb. 8:3). The change in the priesthood has conferred upon all of God's priests the right to minister unto God subject to the restrictions of the Great King.

This great truth was recognized in the primitive church. "The devotional exercises of the Christian assemblies, like those of the Jewish synagogues, consisted principally of prayers, singing of hymns, and sacred discourses. Every one who had the power and the inclination to speak in public was allowed to do so with freedom" (A History of the Christian Church, by Dr. Charles Hase. Pages 40,41).

From W.Carl Ketcherside's "The Royal Priesthood", which is available as a free PDF download HERE

Reprinted with Permission

*Special thanks to Mike Hutchison for assembling this quotation and posting it on his Facebook page as part of an ongoing series called "Tales from the Ketcherside".

RE-POST: CONSUMPTION, EXPRESSION, IDENTITY

CONSUMPTION, EXPRESSION, IDENTITY
By Keith Giles

As a society, we are conditioned to find our identity in what we own or purchase. As Christians, we are conditioned to express our faith through the sanctified products we purchase, own or consume. This is the perversion of Christ into Capitalism and an expression of faith through consumption of products. It is wrong.

A good friend sent me an article he found that provided an intriguing historical perspective on our evolution from artisans to consumers. I've pulled out the quotes I found most fascinating below:

"A Short History of Consumption
With the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the relationship between people and the goods that they made was broken. No longer did peasants plant, tend, and harvest their crops; now agricultural workers labored over someone else’s crops in exchange for wages. No longer did artisans design, plan, craft, and sell; now factory workers repeatedly carried out a single step in the production of a product, again in exchange for wages."

"In short, people were no longer producers, they were now consumers."

"Our identities were no longer tied up with the work we did, but with the buying power our work left us with."

"So people found their identities not in their work but in the things they could buy by working."

"People became consumers, not just in the way they got what they needed but in who they felt themselves to be."

"Unlike the artisan who could express his or her identity through the things s/he created, we have learned to do so through the things we buy"

*Full article HERE


**
The entire article is mainly looking at consumption from an environmental impact perspective, but the points made about our lifelong indoctrination to consumerism as a society are very eye-opening to me. Especially in light of the ongoing series of articles I've been writing lately regarding the evils of the Christian Subculture over on my weekly e-newsletter [Subversive Underground].

Here's what I think we need to understand, as followers of Jesus, regarding the observations made in this article above.

CONSUMPTION IS SELF-EXPRESSION
We, as a society, have made consuming and purchasing products part of our identity structure. This is why people will fork out $30 for a t-shirt with some corporate logo and walk around as a billboard for them, not because they love that company or product, not because of their loyalty to the brand, but because they think that logo makes THEM look cool. It says something about them, and so they willingly become walking advertising...and they PAY for the privilege. Amazing.

CHRISTIAN IDENTITY
Honestly, this really does help me to formulate a clear picture of what's going on in the Christian subculture. We're finding our identity as "Christians" in the products we purchase. These products brand us and identify us as a subset of people. Instead of finding our identity in Christ by the way we relate to Him daily, obey His teachings, and emulate His example of service and unconditional love, we now identify ourselves as Christians by our t-shirts, bumper stickers, books and CD collections.

ARTISTS AND CONSUMPTION/IDENTITY/EXPRESSION
It's also fascinating how this shift in our society stems from the devaluing of artisans in our culture. People now express themselves by what they own or purchase more than by what they create with their hands or their imaginations. Artists within our society are influenced by this consumerist identity structure. Artists of faith are compelled to create art that can be sold, or that conforms to the acceptable Christian marketplace. Art in this context is devoid of pure self-expression, unless that expression conforms to the acceptable branding and messaging of the sacred market.

More from the article:
"The rise of consumption as our primary interaction with the rest of our society has had profound effects. For example, social status is obtained and marked by the things we buy and use. A car, for instance, is not just a way to get from one place to another but has to “say something” about who we are — and even the lack of a car says volumes. Unlike the artisan who could express his or her identity through the things s/he created, we have learned to do so through the things we buy: the t-shirt with the logo of our band or team, the bamboo towels that show our environmental commitments, the alternative album that shows off our indie cred, the designer shoes that place us as part of the trend-setting elite, the minivan that shows us to be part of the dependable, hard-working, family-oriented suburban middle class, and so on."

SUBCULTURE AND IDENTITY
The Christian Subculture has a market. That market embraces a brand. That brand has a message connected to it. That message serves the market and encourages ongoing participation in that market. It means providing reasons to continue purchasing these products day after day and week after week. The market serves itself. It exists to keep itself in business.

The Christian Subculture provides an oasis made of soothing products that help us escape from the Big Bad World that is "Out There". It's a sacred version of "Calgon-Take Me Away!" only our message is more pervasive. It's not just one soothing bath to calm our fears of being trapped in a world of sin, it's music and movies and clothing and books and toys and key chains and license plate frames and decals and candy and pens and pretty much every conceivable object and piece of product that can ever be branded with our message. It's nearly a complete world unto itself, and it's exactly what Jesus prayed to God would never happen to us. (see John 17:15)

THE CART THAT PULLS THE HORSE
I'm not against art or music or expressions of faith. Most of my favorite musicians are believers and their music contains references to our Lord and to faith in Him. Many of my friends are Artists who paint and sculpt and create art to communicate a Kingdom reality. The issue is not that creating art or any sincere expression of devotion to Christ is wrong. What is evil is the marketplace we've created to showcase product. In the beginning the market existed to serve the Art, now the Art exists to serve the marketplace. We have lost focus. Making money is now the main objective. Evangelism or edification or worship is secondary at best, if considered at all.

During my six years in the Christian Music Industry I slowly began to realize the sickness of it all. At first I saw the industry as a way to spread the Gospel and to provide a voice for talented musicians of faith. But soon I realized that it didn't matter if your music ministry was responsible for leading thousands to Christ each year. What mattered was record sales. If your CD's weren't selling at least 20,000 units per sales cycle you'd be dropped from the label in a heartbeat. It was, after all, a Record BUSINESS, and like every business making money and selling product is the very bottom line. Ministry is incidental, and sadly only useful in the context of marketing the product to your target audience, in order to drive more sales.

Like the money-changers in front of the Temple that Jesus chased away with a whip, the original idea was a good one; To provide animals for sacrifice so that people could enter the Temple and participate in the worship of God. However, when money got in the way the original vision was corrupted and the Temple became a marketplace which obscured access for the common man and made a mockery of real worship. The same is true today.

BACK TO JESUS
The tension still remains between the clear command of our Lord to "Go into all the world.." and a subculture that bears His Name, yet encourages a full retreat from the World and identifies membership based on purchasing the acceptable, branded product. The product carries a message that we should fear those outside of our group. It encourages non-involvement with the culture. It makes minimizing contact with those outside the subculture a preferable reality.

If Jesus modeled radical inclusion and commanded us to be known by our love for everyone, especially those who hate us, and a subculture emerges with His Name on it that encourages us to be radically exclusive and creates behavior by which we are known for our intolerance, hatred and condemnation of those outside our group, we must make a choice. Do we choose Jesus or do we choose the man-made subculture with his Name on it?

I choose Jesus.

If Jesus clearly teaches something, and another organization or person teaches the exact opposite we call that "Anti-Christ". To me it's plainly obvious that the Christian Subculture is "Anti-Christ" because it contradicts His message of inclusion, involvement and meaningful relationships with sinners.

I've said it before and I say it again; "Death to the Christian Subculture!"

BRINGING A CHANGE
Where can we fashion a whip and drive out the money-changers from the Temple? It's difficult because we now deal with this on a massive scale. Participation in this market-driven Christian Subculture is pervasive and intangible. There is no physical structure to kick over. There is no clear method for applying the whip necessary to drive them out.

All we can really do is to begin, one person at a time, to disassociate ourselves with this subculture. Stop participating. Stop identifying yourself as a follower of Jesus based on your purchases. Stop pandering to what the Christian Marketplace finds acceptable and palatable. Make Jesus your single source of Truth. Ask God to show you where you have replaced a Jesus way of life with a carefully branded subculture way of life. Escape the false notions of "Sacred" and "Secular" and just start living, as a disciple of Jesus, in this World (the only World), right now.

I declare a personal War against the Christian Subculture.

kg

**
NOTE: Originally published here in October, 2007 and republished here for your edification.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

URGENT: PLEASE FORWARD TO EVERYONE!

DISCLAIMER: Please read the following article VERY CAREFULLY before you do anything
at all. There is more going on here than meets the eye. You have been forewarned. -

As most of us are aware, there is a new Congress in session at the moment. With this new influx of Congressmen and Senators will no doubt come a changing of the guard that will require us as Christians to be vigilant as never before.

This is why what I am about to tell you is SO CRITICAL for each of us. I'm tempted to ask everyone one of you to read what I write here and to forward this to EVERYONE IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK right away. (Especially if you "really" love Jesus).

But, what I'm about to tell you is SO ALARMING, it could seriously threaten Church in America forever.

There is new legislation in motion, at the earliest possible stage, which I need to let everyone know about now before it gets out of our control.

First, many of you are already aware that there are forces out there that threaten to take away the non-profit status of Christian Churches in America whenever messages of a political nature are delivered from the pulpit. As desperate as this is, there is a new development brewing now that is EVEN WORSE.

There are people who want to propose legislation that would challenge the non-profit status of any Christian Church simply based on whether or not that Church actually gives a significant percentage of its funds back to the community, as most other "non-religious" non-profits are required to do.

WHAT THIS MEANS is that your church could be in DANGER OF LOSING ITS NON-PROFIT STATUS simply because little of the tithe money goes to help out those poor families who live around the community. EVEN IF THEY DON'T ATTEND YOUR CHURCH!

Of course, there are plenty of churches in America that do care for the poor in their community. They pass out free groceries, they provide free oil changes for single Moms, they host after-school programs for kids in the area at no-charge, etc. Churches who are already "giving back" to the community in this way and serving others the way Jesus would would have NOTHING TO FEAR!

However, if a church in the community were to spend 70%, 80%, or even 99% of its tithe on ITSELF, it would be in danger of losing that non-profit status and would have to pay taxes JUST LIKE ALL OTHER LARGE CORPORATIONS.

This means that a church spending most of the tithe for salaries, or a new building, or the new flat-screen plasma televisions for the announcements in the nursery, or the Starbucks Coffee bar at the back of the Church, or the new carpet, etc., would have to justify their non-profit status on the basis of whether or not they were actually performing any actual "service" to the poor around them. If they couldn't demonstrate a tangible connection between their church and the community around them, their NON-PROFIT STATUS would be REVOKED FOREVER!

REGARDLESS OF THE FACT that Matthew 25 suggests that Jesus takes our concern for the outcast seriously, this attack on the non-profit status of our big, fat American churches is just NOT FAIR!

We've earned the right to collect as many hundreds of thousands of dollars as we like in the name of Jesus and it should be totally up to us how we spend that money. Especially if it's for our OWN NEEDS, WANTS AND DESIRES.

Just because we're not really involved in the needs of the poor around us, the Church SHOULDN'T BE PUNISHED IN THIS WAY.

Regardless of the fact that the Church in America HAS THE POWER and the ECONOMIC RESOURCES necessary provide affordable housing, long-term community development, and primary health care to everyone who needs it, the US Government should NOT be the one to force this upon us through legal means. That should be left up to a Higher Power.

Even though Universal primary education would cost $8 billion a year, which is about half of what parents in the US spend annually on toys for their children, this has nothing to do with those of us who are called by the name of the One who humbled Himself and surrendered His life to demonstrate the compassion of God to the World, and especially to the least and the lost.

So, if you want to protect your church from this kind of judgement, I urge you to write to your pastors, your elders, your deacons and your church leaders and let them know how you feel about this very serious issue that faces the modern Church in America.

We, the Church in America, are dangerously close to the SIN OF SODOM!

Do you know what the Sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49:

"Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."

Obviously, the issue facing the Church in America today is WAY MORE SERIOUS THAN SIMPLY OUR NON-PROFIT STATUS! If the Church were to rise up and spend their money this way, THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME THING, and yes, a lot of people would probably stop calling us HYPOCRITES and maybe they'd take us seriously when we tell them that Jesus loves them, because we've demonstrated that (just maybe) we love them too.

As you may have guessed, this legislation IS TOTALLY FICITIOUS! I have made up the entire thing with the help of my good friend Jarred Romley who first suggested the concept to me.

I couldn't resist mimicking the style of those alarmist Christian email messages we all get forwarded telling us that we must send it on to everyone we have ever known in order to prove our love for Jesus. Please, also forgive me for all the CAPITAL LETTERS I USED!

Seriously, I think if my friend Jarred were to introduce a Bill like this one to our Congress it might put a fire under our churches to wake up and realize that their Bibles are full of commands to care for the outcast, the poor, and the needy who are all around them. If nothing else, it would create an amazing open dialog in the media between the leaders of the Church, the members of the community, and the man on the street about issues of compassion, Christian charity, and the calling of Jesus to care for the poor as we would care for Him. (see Matthew 25)

Until that legislation comes to pass, I will have to resort to stunts like this to try to wake people up and realize that God's heart is for the poor and that He has taken this issue very seriously.

The truth is, the idea of their church losing its non-profit status is more likely to spur Christians to action than the fact that there are thousands of homeless, and poverty-stricken human beings suffering a few blocks from their front door.

"He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?"- GOD, speaking of King Josiah in Jeremiah 22:16

**
Keith Giles

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One Great Church!

Everyone knows I'm a 100% crazy about house church, but if I had to recommend a traditional church to anyone, it would be Soul Survivor Church in Costa Mesa. They have a great heart for the poor, a fantastic sense of community, a world-class teaching ministry lead by John Thomas, Crissy Brooks and Troy Born, and their worship is intimate, sincere and moving.

John and Lindy Thomas are some of the most genuine and sincere people you'll ever meet and they both have a heart for God's people and the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Check them out ONLINE and if you're ever in Costa Mesa, California be sure to visit them at Triangle Square.

They ROCK!

Peace,
Keith

Monday, February 16, 2009

DESTROY THE (CHRISTIAN) SUBCULTURE

by Keith Giles

I've come to the conclusion that the Christian Subculture is evil. I want to destroy it. I want to choke the life out of it and watch it die. I want to strip the skin from its bones, shake the life out of it and break it into tiny pieces.

In the past I've written articles that express the dangers of the Christian Subculture, and it's no secret that I cannot stand Christian Radio, and have zero tolerance for "Jesus Junk" such as sanctified breath mints or t-shirts that christianize popular logos and advertising (see "Bud Wise Up" or "Lord's Gymn" for example).

The Christian Subculture prevents the breaking in of the Kingdom. It inhibits the Gospel message. It paralyzes the followers of Christ by isolating them from the people they are supposed to love and interact with on a deeply intimate level.

About a year ago I realized that my passion for deconstructing the popular "Churchianity System" extended beyond mere dislike. As I began to fully understand how insidious it really is, I resolved to dedicate myself to its demise. I am now fully convinced that someway, somehow, the entire thing needs to be knocked down with a very large hammer and burned into oblivion.

I have always wanted to have a "Burn Our Christian Crap" session where christians could bring the symbols of their involvement with the Christian Consumerist Monster and we could all stand around and sing "Kumbaya" together while we tosssed our "Lord's Gymn" tees and "Carman" Cd's and other idols to materialistic spiritualilty into a giant bonfire, in homage to those horrible youth group parties where teens were forced to burn their Van Halen records and Rush albums (because they were "secular").

I've come to the radical conclusion that there is nothing secular. There is only the world we live in. This one, right here (look around you...yeah, that world), and nothing more. God created the entire world, and it's a fallen world I agree, but there is no "Sacred" or "Secular" division to this world, other than the artificially constructed one we've created to keep ourselves safe and comfortable and far away from "those evil sinners over there".

Another big revelation for you? We're all sinners. You. Me. That guy over there. Yeah, we're all evil. We all need Jesus. Not just those who don't attend your church or who vote Democrat or who read Harry Potter. All of us. Look it up, it's in the Bible.

So, at the moment, all I have is the fire in my gut, the passionate resolution in my belly, that I hate all things "Christianese" and I long to assist in the complete demolition of this man-made evil.

Now, to be honest I have no real idea what that actually works out to in the real world. Let me be clear; I am NOT advocating the wanton destruction of Christian bookstores; I am NOT organizing petitions to shut down Christian Television (although I'd probably sign a petition if someone sent me one); I'm not calling for people to light torches or assemble in protest...but maybe it would be good idea if we just simply tried to escape the pseudo-reality of Christian Subculture? Maybe we could just start living in the real world, as followers of Jesus, without seeing those imaginary boundary lines between "Us" and "Them"? Maybe we could talk to people and befriend them, and love them, regardless of whether or not they were Christians? Maybe we could stop seeking comfort and shelter within the invisible walls of our own safety zones and start realizing that we live in this world, the real world...the ONLY world, and begin living as Salt and Light to those around us?

Jesus prayed for us, those who would follow after Him, in this way: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."(John 17:15) It was never God's intention to take us out of the world we live in. Why have we decided that it's ok to take ourselves out of the world?

Paul the Apostle also agreed on this point when he wrote, "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world." (1 Cor 5:9-10)

Have we left this world for some virtual, "Clean World" where everything is Christian? Do we have to get our Christian Milk from a Christian Cow? Do we have to freshen our breath with Christian Mints? Do we have to drink Christian Soda and bowl at a Christian Bowling Alley?

This idea of withdrawl from the culture is evil. It is not God's plan for us. It is the fruit of our own sinful, selfish desires to be safe and comfortable, and in some cases to make money and perpetuate an industry. It is demonic, and it hinders the Gospel message by isolating the agents of change (you and I) from those who need "the hope that lies within", and I want nothing more than to see it die a horrible, agonizing death so that God's people can begin to learn what it means to be human and start relating to other human beings who are sinful and hopeless without Christ, just like everyone else.

The Christian Subculture is essentially a wall that we build to keep ourselves from the world. Like the Berlin Wall, or the Great Wall of China, or Hadrian's Wall, or the wall between Palestine and Israel, it is an artificial border designed by us, the supposed followers of Jesus, in order to isolate us from the ones we are commanded to love.

Jesus would want us to smash down that wall. It's the same wall built by the money changers in the Temple at Jerusalem which kept the common people from entering the house of God. Those systems were also man-made. Those systems also invovled making a buck on the sale of faith and the commercialization of God's name.

I'm not sure where to find the hammer big enough to knock down this wall we've built, but I long to find one, and when I do I will let it swing.

Keith
***
NOTE: THIS IS A BLAST FROM THE PAST WHICH I'VE UPDATED AND REPRINTED HERE FOR YOUR EDIFICATION.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cleaning House

I updated links to the Ray Mayhew article "Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Contemporary Christianity", the Walter Kirn article "What Would Jesus Do?" and my 3 part interview with Dallas Willard on the left-hand nav bar.

In addition, I updated the link to download the Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis mp3 sermons from last year's Non-Con.

Also added links to Lionel Wood's "The Gospel in 3-D" and Heather and Daniel Cosby's blog.

Note: The Ray Mayhew article is only available as a free PDF which is obtained by emailing me directly at "elysiansky" (at) hotmail dot com with the subject line: "Embezzlement".

FYI- I am randomly accessible at Facebook and Twitter, if you use those.

Blessings,
kg

Thursday, February 12, 2009

UNITY?

God has been teaching me lately that I have to be ready to speak the truth in love. Often I am eager to speak the truth, but I forget to remember that I am commanded to love the people I am speaking to.

What makes it difficult is that, even with my best efforts, there are those who will respond to me in anger, and who will also forget to love me, especially when it comes to issues concerning the Church such as paid pastoral staff, tithing, running the church like a business, etc.

I am currently trying to reconcile and make peace with a few of my friends who have more vocally and publicly opposed me here on my blog. It's slow going, but I believe it's a worthy effort, especially in light of the fact that I am called to be a peace maker, and to take up the ministry of reconciliation, and to live at peace with all men - as far as it depends upon me.

Of course, the aim is not to bring my friends around to my way of thinking. In fact, whenever I do finally sit down with my friends my hope is that we do not debate or argue or discuss these issues that divide us at all. Instead, I hope that we can remember what we hold in common and agree to love one another even though we know we disagree on these issues.

So, yes, I will continue to write and to speak and to publish articles regarding the New Testament ideas of leadership, church modality, the priesthood of the believer, making discisples, caring for the poor, and everything else I have always been passionate about. My calling has not changed. But my approach may have.

For the last several months I have all but stopped writing my book, which is about the New Testament teachings concerning the people of God as the new temple, the new priesthood and the living, daily sacrifice. Why? Because I needed to make sure that I was really hearing from God about this subject and to be certain that what I was saying was done in love.

During this time I even went so far as to invite men of God, some of them my peers, some of them far above me in maturity, to rebuke me and to correct me on these issues. I needed to know if I was really off base or if my reading of the New Testament on these issues was accurate.

After this season of introspection and evaluation, I feel even more passionate about the book, and the subject of new testament ecclessia, but I have resolved to write a book that communicates these ideas in a more winsome and less provocative fashion.

I still haven't shaken my position that much of the traditional church today is a Jewish Temple-based form of Christianity which attempts to repair the veil that God ripped in half as Jesus finished his work upon the cross.

There is still, and always will be, a little of the reluctant radical in me. All that I'm writing about and the way I'm living my life and practicing my faith really is all about crossing those boundaries and many, many people are pretty upset that I would dare to think this way or encourage others to behave as if none of the Temple Christianity was valid (because it's not based on the New Testament).

I'm also learning that God is still working on my attitude and my heart in all of this, too.

My challenge is to point out these things and oppose these man-made ideas while still maintaining a sincere love for my brothers and sisters in Christ - even when they oppose me and respond hatefully.

Maybe there isn't a way to speak these things and write these things without severing these bonds, but if there is a way, I know I must try, for the sake of the Body and for unity among brothers.

Peace,
kg

Monday, February 09, 2009

Remembering Mary Ann Serna



Our Mission House Church is mourning the loss of our dear sister in Christ who passed away Saturday evening from brain cancer.

I've posted some photos and a bit of how we celebrated her life yesterday at house church over on the Mission House Church website HERE

This morning I found this article I had written about Mary Ann back in July of last year and I wanted to post it here as a remembrance of her life and the impact she had on me, my family, and our house church family.

**
[Subversive Underground] Friday, July 04, 2008
THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION
by Keith Giles

My friend Mary Anne has cancer. She's sixty one years old and she's been part of our Mission House Church family for almost exactly one year now.

When I first met her she was living at the Salvation Army Hospitality House for the homeless.

For many years Mary Anne had been a school teacher here in Orange County. She loves children and loved teaching. Even today she still misses her classroom and her students.

For a time Mary Anne slept on our sofa. Even though she had a retirement pension from her many years as a teacher, she had cashed it out early to care for her son in his time of need a few years ago. When it came time to retire she found herself out of a job, and out of a house and home.

Eventually God opened a door for Mary Anne at a local retirement home. It was just down the street from us so we got to see her often and she continued to come to our house church gatherings each week.

About a month ago Mary Anne had a 3 inch tumor removed from her brain. You wouldn't believe how quickly she's recovered from her surgery, but there's still a network of melanoma tumors spider-webbed throughout her brain mass.

So, last Sunday our church family gathered around her and laid hands on her and prayed for God to heal her. Children and adults gathered around her and cried out to God for mercy, for healing and for restoration of health.

Afterwards we listened as Mary Anne shared with us about God's peace and how even though the Doctors say she is terminal, she feels fine and full of life. Better yet, she's witnessing God's ministry of reconciliation as her son is restored to her after years of estrangement, and her daughter is being reconciled to her father, and Mary Anne's brother is seeking out a renewed relationship with her after years of separation.

We reflected on how God seems to be using this sickness in Mary Anne's life to radiate healing through her life to heal relationships. Because of this terminal cancer God is restoring a son to his mother, a brother to his sister, and a daughter to her father.

Only God can do this. Only God can heal these wounds and restore these broken relationships.

One of our leaders in the house church, Kelly, remarked on how God's desire is to heal us completely. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally and psychologically. God desires to heal us and nurture us inside and out. He delights in making us whole and complete.

We shared together from 2 Corinthians 5, verses 17 through 20, where Paul reminds us: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."

Each of us in the Body of Christ has been given this same ministry of reconciliation. We are to be peacemakers. Even as Jesus encouraged us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9), we are to be people of peace, people who bring reconciliation in our wake.

So, for today, Mary Anne basks in the peace of God, knowing that He is in control of her life. She knows that God is at work through her sickness, and that for now He is using even this to reconcile her family and restore these relationships. Her hope is that each of them will come to know Jesus as she knows Him, to love Him as she loves Him, and to trust Him as she trusts Him...with her very life.

In time, we pray that God would heal her cancer. We will continue to pray together every time we gather for God's mercy and healing in Mary Anne's body, and until then we will rejoice for the ministry of healing and reconciliation that is radiating out of her in every direction to soften hearts and restore her family.

As Mary Anne said to me last Sunday, "God is faithful."

Amen.

-kg
**

Friday, February 06, 2009

9 MARKS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH

What are the marks of a healthy church?

Over on my Facebook page a friend posted a video clip for something called "9 Marks of a Healthy Church".

Of course, "The Gospel" came in at #3 on the list, right behind "Expositional Preaching" at #1 and "Biblical Theology" at #2. In the #4 slot was "Conversion", followed by "Evangelism", "Membership", "Church Discipline" and (finally) that crazy idea that Jesus came up with - "Discipleship" at #8, and "Church Leadership" brought up the rear.

So, of course, I had to come up with the 9 Marks of our Mission House Church:

1- Giving 100% of our money to the poor
2- Love for one another
3- Love for others
4- Making disciples
5- Serving others
6-Encouraging one another
7-Knowing and using our spiritual gifts to bless one another
8-Sharing meals together
9-Learning to be the family of God

BTW- We also have no expository teaching, no child care, no youth group, no paid staff, no programs and no board of directors or bank account.

This is the best thing I've ever done with the word "Church " on it!
kg

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

JON FOREMAN'S "INSTEAD OF A SHOW"

INSTEAD OF A SHOW

lyrics by Jon Foreman
(from his song "Instead of a Show" on the CD "Limbs and Branches")

Instead of a Show

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you’re singing ‘em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show

Your eyes are closed when you’re praying
You sing right along with the band
You shine up your shoes for services
There’s blood on your hands
You turned your back on the homeless
And the ones that don’t fit in your plan
Quit playing religion games
There’s blood on your hands

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

Let’s argue this out
If your sins are blood red
Let’s argue this out
You’ll be one of the clouds
Let’s argue this out
Quit fooling around
Give love to the ones who can’t love at all
Give hope to the ones who got no hope at all
Stand up for the ones who can’t stand at all, all
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood of justice
An endless procession of righteous living, living
Instead let there be a flood of justice
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

**
Amen

-kg

See Amos 5:21-24 and Isaiah 1