Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Sorry it's been a while since my last post.

I've been busy at work, trying to get the new Soul Survivor Summer Camp website up and running. With the help of my brother Lito, it's finally (mostly) done:

My son Dylan has Chicken Pox. We're not sure if we want David to get it or not..but if he does we'd like it to be quick so he can get it over with.

Last night my Dell laptop, which I use for work and for posting on this blog, just died. It's either a virus, or something in the hard-ware. Not sure which is worse.

For now I'm using a craptacular Toshiba laptop built in 1977 that takes about 30 minutes just to power up.


But, I suppose I should be thankful that I have a back-up option or I'd be really screwed.

The third "issue" of the SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND (sign up info below) just went out the other day. So far I think it's going ok. I've received a few comments back from people and most are thought-provoking. No "unsubscribe" email notices...yet.

I'm trying to judge what sort of things should go on the UNDERGROUND email newsletter as opposed to the SUBVERSIVE1 blog.

For example, my last UNDERGROUND was a full-blown article which probably belonged here moreso than on the newsletter...and this little entry on my blog is probably something I should be sending out on the newsletter...or whatever.

I'll write more later. Don't want to ramble.


Monday, November 21, 2005

LESS IS MORE by Keith Giles

LESS IS MORE by Keith Giles

Moving is one of the most painful and emotionally draining experiences imaginable. I do not recommend it unless absolutely necessary.

Having recently endured the suffering of relocation, I have several observations to share.

The first one is the fact that I have entirely too much.

As we were moving recently, into our new house, I had the very painful experience of moving my stuff into storage for about two weeks and then moving it back out of storage again.

As I went through this process, I found myself repenting of my materialism every few seconds. Finally, those who had come along to help us move even asked me to stop apologizing for all the stuff I had. Maybe I was making them feel guilty about all the stuff they were hanging on to, I’m not sure.

Seriously, I think that if most of what I own were to go up in flames, I’d be a happier person.

Last week, as I was unpacking one of my many boxes, I re-discovered an article in Print Magazine that reviewed the book “On Brand” by Wally Olins. His book took a look at brand identity and our consumerist culture.

Here’s a bit of the article for review:

“Our personal identities are so entwined with brands that it has become difficult to distinguish our preferences from our beliefs. Olins (the author of the book) says that brands have “a kind of spiritual power…In a sense, brand affiliation seems, in our individualistic, materialistic, acquisitive, egocentric era, to have become a kind of replacement for or supplement to religious belief.’

“Olins cites the book ‘Lead Us Into Temptation’ which draws analogies between consumer behavior today and the behavior of individuals in a more conventionally religious era, (imposing) the shopping mall as cathedral, the designer label as crucifix, and so on.

“He asserts that brands have replaced religion…yet answering this question is essesntial. Why have we replaced our spiritual beliefs with products that provide social confidence? Why do more and more of us affiliate with consumerist clubs and with churches, temples, communities- or each other?” – (from the review of the book “On Brand” by Wally Olins; Print Magazine, May/June, 2004).

Why indeed?

It makes me sad to think that, as the Church has retreated from its God-given role in society, the vacuum has been filled by shopping malls, advertising and materialism.

It's like when I was a little kid I'd want that new toy so badly, and a few weeks after I got it I'd realize that it didn't really make me happy. Then I'd see another new toy and want that one, yet once again the disappointment would follow after the initial excitement of acquisition.

The toys never made me happy.

Our society has elevated the act of purchasing, owning and acquiring material wealth above the virtues of giving, sharing or being content with what we have.

Maybe I’m overreacting again? I know that many of my friends accuse me of taking things too seriously, and maybe that’s true.

But, I have learned to take the conviction of the Holy Spirit seriously these days, and as I look at the piles of boxes in my garage, I am cut to the heart. Some of these boxes are actually labeled “Junk”.

Maybe what I’m feeling is a combination of guilt over my materialism, and a genuine shame for having so much, when I have friends who have so little?

One of the little girls at the motel where we serve was in our Kids Rock class this last Sunday. Our lesson was about being thankful and not complaining, as the Israelites did when God continually provided manna for them to survive on.

This sweet little girl, who shares a single room with her parents and her little brother at a local motel, raised her hand and shared with us how she would not complain that way if it was her. “I would be happy that God gave me food to eat and a place to sleep,” she said.

I almost asked her to come up front and finish teaching the lesson while the rest of listened. If anyone understands what it means to be thankful and not to complain, it’s this little girl.

What do I know about feeling thankful? What do I know about being content with little when I have so much? Maybe even too much?

I’m reminded of a section in the book “Fight Club” where Tyler Durden says, “I’m breaking my attachment to physical power and possessions, because only through destroying myself can I discover the great power of my spirit. The liberator who destroys my property is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free.”

Earlier on in the same book, the main character is chided by the doorman of his building on the evils of materialism. He says, “A lot of young people try to impress the world and buy too many things…a lot of young people don’t know what they really want...if you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t”.

I think maybe now I’m beginning to understand what it is that I want…what I really want…and even more, what I really need.

Maybe that’s why I secretly wish that I could just ditch all my ‘stuff’ and live a more simple life?

Didn’t Jesus warn us that it was possible to gain the whole world and yet lose our soul? Didn’t Jesus say that the man who finds his life will lose it, and the person who looses his life for His sake will find it?

Yeah…I think it was Jesus.

So, should I take a vow of poverty? Should I start donating all my most valuable things to the local Thrift Store? Should I drag my junk out onto the driveway and post a giant sign that says, “Free Stuff”?

Wait a minute…I’m still thinking about this one.

My wife and I have vowed to spend at least one night each week going through at least one box with the intention of getting rid of junk we don’t need and donating things that are superfluous to us but might be of use to others.

It’s not as dramatic as lighting the match, or renting the dumpster, but it’s a start.

“Everybody has one, and one is enough for anybody” – Willy Wonka


Friday, November 18, 2005

THE EXTRA MILE by Keith Giles

Jesus talked about going the extra mile. He suggested that, if asked to walk with someone for one mile, that we go two miles without being asked.

This is not about a formula we’re to follow, however. We’re not supposed to make the words of Jesus into another set of laws, but instead, we’re to filter everything through the attitude of love.

So, if the most loving thing to do is to walk that extra mile with someone, then we should do it, not because we’re “supposed to” but because we’re compelled to love others the way Jesus loves them.

Recently I was visiting a church where the pastor’s sermon was about going the extra mile. His attempt was to get us to go above and beyond the everyday, ordinary sort of Christianity in favor of a faith that is more than the mundane.

He was suggesting that we do things like pray for our lost friends, or love our next door neighbors who weren’t yet believers, or read the Word of God every day, taking time to be alone with God in prayer and meditation. That’s when I realized something. This sort of “Extra Mile” Christianity that the pastor was talking about was actually what Jesus had in mind in the first place.

In other words, what we’ve come to think of as the “extra mile” is really the bare minimum that a follower of Jesus should be about anyway.

So, it made me wonder, if Christians aren’t doing all these “extra” things as they go about their everyday life, then just what ARE we doing?

Do we need someone to tell us that we need to love our neighbor, or spend time with God, or pray for our friends? If so, then I think we’ve really got a very low bar when it comes to our faith.

Maybe it’s the fruit of an easy grace, where all we’re required to do is to raise our hand if we don’t want to go to hell and repeat a prayer and maybe sign a card, in order to be considered a “Christian”?

I think we’ve lost the concept of surrendering our life to Christ.

When you think about your own faith walk, what comes to your mind when you think about going the extra mile?

Is it something like praying for an hour each day? Or maybe reading your Bible every night before you go to bed? Maybe it’s closer to helping people around you who are in need, even if it costs you something? Or perhaps you’d equate sharing your faith with total strangers with the extra mile?

Whatever comes to your mind when you think of going that extra mile, I’ll bet that it’s really only what Jesus would’ve expected you to do simply because you’ve surrendered your life to Him.

But what good do these insights do us?

Seriously, what’s the point? Is it so we can feel badly about how little we actually do for Jesus each day? Is it to make some of us feel superior because, in our estimation, we actually do embody this high standard of Christian behavior?

No. The point is that all of us have fallen short of the Glory of God.

All of us.

What is it that prevents us from living that ‘extra mile’ brand of life that Jesus models for us in the scriptures? I think it’s pure and simple; obedience.

There are moments when we respond to God’s Spirit in obedience, taking the opportunity to be Jesus in someone’s life, whether we feel like it or not, and then there are moments when we fail to listen to God’s voice and we do our own thing.

When we obey God, we create the possibility. Maybe that’s why Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’, so that we might cooperate with what God is doing in the moment. When we allow God’s will to be done, and it’s only done when we are obedient to Him, then His Kingdom can break into the here and now and we can experience life ‘as it is in Heaven’.

Jesus said, ‘Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only He who does the will of my Father in Heaven’…and ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’.

Jesus didn’t ever expect that those who would become his disciples would ever do anything less than exactly everything that he taught, commanded, and modeled for them to do. Obedience isn’t an option for those who have surrendered their lives in favor of the Jesus kind of life. Obedience IS the Jesus kind of life.

Of course, when I talk this way people say that I’m being legalistic.

What about Grace, they ask me.

Yes, Grace is awesome. We’re definitely saved by Grace and not by our works, as Paul says in Ephesians.

But, in that very same verse, in the same breath if you will, Paul says that we’re “…saved by Grace to do good works, prepared in advance for us to do.”

So, Grace is for salvation, and it’s for us to have strength to do those good works too, and obedience to Jesus is what the faith walk is all about.

Believing in Jesus is more than having a strong opinion that he exists. It means “putting your whole trust in” Jesus. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “For whosoever believes in (me) will not perish but have Eternal life” –John 3:16.

The word ‘Believe’ is translated as the Greek for “the kind of knowledge that conceives”, or a relationship that allows an intimate knowledge and complete trust in someone…sort of like the ultimate intimacy that permeates the physical, emotional, and spiritual reality.

Belief, then, becomes about much more than ‘hope’ or ‘agreement’ when we understand this. Belief is actually about complete trust…and surrender…and obedience.

We can’t afford to perpetuate the concept that being a Christian involves having God as our ‘Co-Pilot’.

He’s either the pilot, or you’re flying solo.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Ok, I'm kind of playing with an idea here, but it's only going to be successful if you guys sign up for it.

Basically, I'd like to sign people up for an email journal that I'd send out once a week or so, (I promise not to overload your email box with too much fluff), with thoughts, articles, ideas, and maybe even questions for you guys to respond to.

It would be the same type of stuff I talk about here, but in a more interactive format and only for those who want a little more 'subversive' stuff in their in box.

So...if you think you're interested in being part of this underground list/journal/thang...shoot me an email at the address below. (You can always opt out if it's too boring...or too much email for you).

Send an email to me with the title "underground" to this address to sign up:

keith @ soulsurvivor. net (take the spaces out of course)

The articles I post here will not be emailed to you. Only new articles and columns that aren't online at this blog will be sent out a few times each week.

Welcome to the underground.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

DOWN RIVER by Keith Giles

DOWN RIVER by Keith Giles

Here I sit in my new house in Orange, far away from the familiar life I once knew in Tustin.

Just today I was reading in “Practitioners” about how Jesus took the blind man who was brought to him outside the village, alone.

The point being made was about how Jesus often takes us to the unfamiliar places before he works a miracle in our lives because he wants us to depend totally on him and not on what we know or have experienced.

I am in unfamiliar territory.

Just the other day, before I read this chapter on the unfamiliar, I caught myself driving around the city of Tustin where I know the trails and the landmarks by heart.

It’s easier to live in the places where we’re at home. It’s more difficult to venture outside our comfort zones, or our home territory, to explore a new village, or discover a fresh idea.

When I first began to explore this idea of leading a House Church, I heard pastors ask me what the model is for what I’m doing. My peers scratch their heads when I talk about House Churches and ask me to provide evidence that this is a viable method of evangelism or missions.

You know what I realized? It’s impossible to blaze a new trail and then ask for the roadmap first.

If you’re called to pioneer something, it will mean that there will not be a trail for you to follow as you move along.

Since those first few days of exploration into the House Church movement, I have discovered that I am not so alone. There are people all over Orange County, and the Nation, who have been doing this sort of thing for a very long time now. It’s just been under the radar of most of contemporary Christian society.

Even in this I feel the tension. Do I blaze a trail all alone, leaning only on God and His divine guidance? Or do I glean from the wisdom of those who have taken this path before me and save myself the grief of repeating the mistakes that they made long ago?

When it comes to the neighborhood we find ourselves in now, I wonder how best to approach the launch of our mission here.

Do I invite my neighbors to a friendly cookout first? Get to know them as friends and as people before I ask them if they’d like to come over on Sunday mornings to pray and study the Bible with us?

Or, do I start an ALPHA class series during the week first? Have a meal, watch a DVD segment each Thursday night and host the resulting discussion groups in hopes of winning some of them to Christ before we launch the Sunday service?

I am wrestling with several different combinations of these scenarios.

So, now I find myself in a great, new house, here in Orange. In unfamiliar territory. Unsure of exactly how to be a missionary to these people. Waiting for a sign.

Last year, back in March, my friend had a dream about me. He said he saw me dressed in a bright yellow suit looking full of life and light. Then he said the color changed to orange and he heard God say, “He will astound and confound” before he woke up.

What I find interesting is that my decision to leave my pastor’s position has left many of my friends, including this friend, very confounded. It’s also interesting that I’ve moved to the city of Orange to start a House Church.

Then, last week, Wendy and I were invited to have dinner with an older couple at our church. She shared with me a vision that God showed her during the Sunday service back on September 25th of this year.

She showed me her journal and the only thing on the page was a drawing of a large house with three upper floors (a total of four floors) and each floor had 3 windows in it. The lower floor had only 2 windows and the door in the middle.

She said God spoke to her through this vision (as I was sitting in front of her during the worship set) and told her that the house was symbolic of the new house church we would be starting. (No one knew we were leaving to start a House Church at this time, btw).

The windows, she told me, were symbolic of all the new windows of opportunity that God was going to open for us. There were eleven total, plus the door itself on the ground floor.

God has been sending people to us lately to encourage us and to spur us on towards this new endeavor and it’s nothing short of amazing.

Even though I honestly prefer, in some ways, the familiar sights, smells and sounds of our old life, I am constantly challenged and compelled towards this new phase of our ministry.

More on this later…



If you’d like to know what it was like to attend a Christian gathering in the early days of the faith, here’s a great look at what they were doing in the 2nd Century.

*Tertullian’s explanation of Church in the 2nd Century:

“We are a society with a common religious feeling, unity of discipline, a common bond of hope. We meet in gatherings and congregations to approach God in prayer, massing our forces to surround Him…We meet to read the divine Scriptures…Our presidents are elders of proved character….

“Even if there is a treasury of a sort, it is not made up of money paid in initiation fees, as if religion were a matter of contract. Every man once a month brings some modest contribution- or whatever he wishes, and only if he does wish, and if he can; for nobody is compelled; it is a voluntary offering…to feed the poor and to bury them, for boys and girls who lack property and parents, and then for slaves grown old…

“So we, who are united in mind and soul, have no hesitation about sharing property. All is common among us- except our wives. At that point we dissolve our partnership..

“Our dinner shows its idea in its name; it is called by the Greek name for love (Agape)…We do not take our places at table until we have first partaken of prayer to God. Only so much is eaten as satisfies hunger. After water for the hands come the lights, and then each, from what he knows of the Holy Scriptures, or from his own heart, is called before the rest to sing to God.

”Prayer in like manner ends the banquet…”

(An excerpt from his “Apology”, taken from “Roman Civilization Sourcebook II: The Empire, p.588)


Thanks to those who know I love books and keep a wishlist on Amazon, these books are now in a little box on the way to my new front door:

*FOLLOW ME by Jan Hettinga
Jan Hettinga addresses the roadblocks that keep us from following Christ-our mistrust of authority, our fear of giving up control, and our unwillingness to face our resistance to God's kingdom. If you're tired of working to control your life and long to surrender to Jesus, Follow Me will challenge you to examine your life and submit to Christ as He leads you into the safety of His kingdom.

Todd Hunter introduced me to this guy and his book is also endorsed by WOLFGANG SIMSON, the guy who wrote HOUSES THAT CHANGE THE WORLD (the book I'm reading now), so I'm excited to get this one.

*LET GO by Fenelon
Someone borrowed my last copy and I need a new one. This is a timeless, deep, convicting devotional book about dying to self from a great spiritual giant of days long past.

An incredible book featuring dialog and monolog from the last 2 SOLITON SESSIONS in Ventura at The Bridge. I resolve to attend next year. Great insights from DAVID RUIS, PETE GREIG, RUSSINGER, SPENCER BURKE, DAN KIMBALL & DOUG PAGITT.

*THE CHURCH COMES HOME : Building Community and Mission
through Home Churches by R. BANKS
This one was recommended to me by the amazing SCOTT BARTCHY, Professor of the History of Religion at UCLA. It's about the power of the House Church and the idea of being the church rather than going to church.

*FAITH AND WEALTH: A History of Early Christian Ideas on the
Origin, Significance, and Use of Money by JUSTO L. GONZALEZ
I just read Justo's book on the History of Early Christianity and it was very interesting stuff...(I'll have to write a column or two here about what I learned from this other book)....and this one looks to be another fantastic, eye-opener about the early church and the idea of wealth, ownership and sharing.

I also picked up 2 cd's: The new SWITCHFOOT and the new DAVID CROWDER (I had a burned copy but had vowed to actually purchase the real deal, so now I'm off the hook).

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Yes, 39 years ago today, the fabric of space and time pulled back to reveal this fragile and yet strangely troubled soul.

It was a day of wonder and tears.

Cigarettes were burned. Laughter echoed down the hallway. A mother's heart slid into gear.

The angel's sighed, and one of them farted, but no one knew which one it was so they pretended not to hear.

It was a day of love so great it hurt to breathe.

Glad to be here, friend.

Hope to be here a bit longer before I join the flatulent angels.



Tuesday, November 08, 2005

THE REVOLUTION (Barna Extract)

REVOLUTION - An Extract.
From George Barna's pre-manuscript of a forthcoming book.

As we journey together, I want to show you what our research has uncovered regarding a growing sub-nation of people, already well over 20 million strong, who are what we call Revolutionaries.

What "established systems" are they seeking to "overthrow or repudiate" and "thoroughly replace," in Webster's words?

They have no use for churches that play religious games, whether those games are worship services that drone on without the presence of God or ministry programs that bear no spiritual fruit.

Revolutionaries eschew ministries that compromise or soft sell our sinful nature to expand organizational turf. They refuse to follow people in ministry in leadership positions who cast a personal vision rather than God's, or who seek popularity rather than the proclamation of truth in their public statements, or who are more concerned about their own legacy than that of Jesus Christ.

They refuse to donate one more dollar to man-made monuments that mark their own achievements and guarantee their place in history.

They are unimpressed by accredited degrees and endowed chairs in Christian colleges and seminaries that produce young people incapable of defending the Bible or unwilling to devote their life to serving others.

And Revolutionaries are embarrassed by language that promises Christian love and holiness but turns out to be all sizzle and no substance.

In fact, many Revolutionaries have been active in good churches that have biblical preaching, people coming to Christ and being baptized, a full roster of interesting classes and programs, and a congregation packed with nice people. There is nothing overtly wrong with anything taking place at such churches. But Revolutionaries innately realize that it is just not enough to go with the flow.

The experience provided through their church, although better than average, still seems flat. They are seeking a faith experience that is more robust and awe-inspiring, a spiritual journey that prioritizes transformation at every turn,
something worthy of the Creator whom their faith reflects...

Revolutionaries zealously pursue an intimate relationship with God, which Jesus Christ promised we could have through Him...

In this book I will describe what The Barna Group has learned about this under-the-radar but seminal renaissance of faith that will remake the religious contours of this country over the coming quarter-century.

[Barna goes on to predict the complete re-shaping of the way people experience "church" in America]:

Whereas "Christian community" has generally been limited to the relationships facilitated within a congregation, the Revolution is bursting open the walls of the worldwide Church to birth a truly
international network of relationships...

The U.S. will see a reduction in the number of churches, as presently configured (i.e. congregational-formatted ministries).

Church service attendance will drop... Donations to churches will drop... Churches' already limited political and cultural influence will diminish even further at the same time that Christians will exert greater influence through more disparate mechanisms.

Fewer church programs will be sustained in favor of more communal experiences among Christians...

To some, this will sound like the Great Fall of the Church. To Revolutionaries, it will be the Great Reawakening of the Church.

New scenarios do not mean mayhem and dissipation. In this case, they represent a new day in which the Church can truly be the Church--different than what we know today, but more responsive to and reflective of God.

* The number of Christians attending local church in the USA is declining
rapidly. Today, 70% of Christians attend traditional churches, but this
will sink to 30-35% in 20 years;

* The number of followers of Jesus who do not attend a local church will
grow from 30% to 70% in the next 20 years;

* Alternative fellowship forms (house church/simple church, post-modern
churches etc.), currently home for 5% of USA Christians, will grow to
make up 30-35%; another 30-35% will live out their faith in the fields
of media, arts and culture; the remaining 5% of Christians attending
non-traditional forms of church will have a family-based spiritual life;

* Conclusion: a minority group presently not even noticed by many will
become the mainstream of North American Christianity in only two

"This is a revolution, and will change not only the recruiting strategies of seminaries and Bible schools, but also radically question church building projects," says Barna. If only half as many people will be visiting traditional congregational services in 20 years, a smaller building will suffice.

Source: George Barna "Revolution"

Monday, November 07, 2005

LOOKING UP by Keith Giles

It's amazing how things look on the other side of uncertainty.

We all know that God is faithful. We all can recite the scriptures that testify to His goodness, and many of us have real-life testimonials of our own to verify that God is good...all of the time.

Yet, I'm ashamed to admit that my faith is sometimes lacking. I admit that there were times in the last few weeks of adversity where I doubted, or at least "wondered", if God was really going to come through for us or not.

Sometimes, it's true, that God allows us to drop off the cliff for a bit...maybe to test our wings, maybe to see if we'll still look up to Him when we land on the rocks below. I don't really know why, but there are times when God doesn't come through and rescue us.

Thankfully, my family has experienced God's faithfulness. We are safe. We are sheltered. We have food. We have support. We are loved.

While I am very, very grateful to God for this, and to all of you who have held us up on prayer these last few months, I still wonder about all of those who have not yet felt God's hands on their shoulders, or heard His voice whisper in their ears.

God has provided an abundance for us at this time, and we have been given opportunities to help others who are in even greater need than we are lately. In fact, it's only because of the incredible graciousness of those who have lavished gifts and blessings upon us that we have enough to share with others.

Isn't that what it's all about?

I find it interesting that the ones who've gone through times of lack and endured poverty are the very same ones who have the most open hand to others who suffer. Maybe because those of us who have lived in this valley of the shadow know what it's like? Maybe these times of suffering strengthen our empathy and increase our compassion?

I think it must be so.

I still know that my family will have to continue to walk by faith, and not by sight. I still know that we could endure another time of difficulty at any moment. I still know that "in this world, (I) will have trouble"....and I still know that God is good...all of the time.

For today, our family has a new three bedroom house in Orange with a large den (for that House Church starting next year), and a fireplace, and a backyard for our Giles Team Soccor Tournaments, and plenty of places for Wendy to plant her flowers.

I am grateful to the point of tears.

Praise you Father.

Thank you for being faithful to us.