Friday, December 28, 2007

CHRISTVERTISING - The Future of Our Christian Subculture?



The following news stories touched a nerve in me today.

First, read this:
Scientists: Time Itself May Be Slowing Down

"A group of scientists from the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, and Spain's University of Salamanca have offered a different idea. Maybe it's the passage of time itself that's slowing down, they say. The distant galaxies only look like they're accelerating because our deep-space telescopes are essentially looking back in time to see them, to when time was going faster. "

and then read this:
The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (Paperback)

Schroeder is an Israeli physicist and scholar of Genesis who maintains that a properly understood Bible and a properly understood science provide consistent sets of data. In recent decades, scientific discoveries in cosmology, paleontology, and quantum physics do not demonstrate or prove the activity of God, but they do remove conflict with that activity.

Schroeder is very lucid in explaining difficult scientific concepts, such as the passage of time according to the theory of relativity, and religious data, such as the original Hebrew words. Schroeder's careful and responsible handling of the data on origins from science and Genesis 1, combined with a fresh, judicious correlation between the two, is compelling.


`Gospel of wealth' facing scrutiny
By ERIC GORSKI, AP Religion WriterThu Dec 27, 2:56 PM ET

The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor's living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.
And so the 53-year-old accountant from the Tampa, Fla., area pledged $500 a year to Joyce Meyer, the evangelist whose frank talk about recovering from childhood sexual abuse was so inspirational. She wrote checks to flamboyant faith healer Benny Hinn and a local preacher-made-good, Paula White.

Only the blessings didn't come. Fleenor ended up borrowing money from friends and payday loan companies just to buy groceries. At first she believed the explanation given on television: Her faith wasn't strong enough.

"I wanted to believe God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them," she said. "I'm angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don't watch anyone on TV hardly."

(more in link above)

I cannot tell you how much this sort of thing pisses me off. I know more than one elderly woman who has to live on hand-outs because she sends checks for hundreds of dollars to these hucksters and charlatans. Then they call us in tears wondering why God hasn't healed their illness or pain. They have been so deluded into believing this Gospel of Gain and it makes me sick.

If you read the entire story linked above you'll see where one of the Televangelists says that their brand of theology must work because they themselves are filthy rich. All that proves is that if you're the person telling others to believe your bullsh*t and mail you checks for hundreds of dollars you can get rich. It doesn't work for those poor saps who believe your twisted doctrines and go broke supporting your 20 million dollar spending habit.

This theology doesn't work for the millions of poor and diseased in India, Africa, Bangledesh, Nepal, etc. It only seems to work in capitalist, materialistic USA where the Gospel of Jesus has been hijacked and perverted into the most anti-Kingdom message you could possibly imagine.

Jesus was poor. He was born into poverty. The Scriptures could not be more clear on this. Jesus was homeless. Paul was homeless. The Gospel is about giving things away, not hoarding wealth for yourself. The early church sold property and liquidated wealth to care for the poorest of the poor around them; not just the Christians. The leaders of the Church took the money laid at their feet and distributed it to the poor and the orphan and the widow and the leper. They did not keep it and purchase goodies for themselves or enrich their lives here with the offerings of their flock.

In America we say, "Come to Jesus and you'll get a better job, you'll have a happier family and you'll make more money." In the rest of the World the Gospel is communicated as, "Come to Jesus and you may lose your job. Your family may be imprisoned. You may be tortured. Your life here may be difficult."

Excuse me, I'm going to go puke now.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our Christmas Miracle

by Keith Giles

Our flight out of Little Rock was delayed over an hour. This meant we'd miss our connecting flight out of Dallas by almost forty-five minutes. Our options were limited. According to the American Airlines representative we could either fly to Dallas and take our chances on stand-by flights or we could spend the night in Little Rock and try again on Sunday.

Looking at my two elementary-aged sons standing huddled together with my wife and her sister beside the boarding gate I decided to take our chances on stand-by in Dallas, even though it might mean splitting up our group on separate flights, or possibly spending the night in a Dallas hotel and flying out on Sunday morning.

Our house church had scheduled a massive Christmas gift-wrapping and distribution party for the next day. If we ended up staying in Dallas we'd miss the whole thing, and half of the gifts were in our house which would mean they wouldn't be available to wrap or to pass out to the children who were expecting them.

We boarded the flight to Dallas and breathed prayers for a miracle.

In Dallas I sprinted off the plane and was shocked to learn that our flight was still in the gate. Even though it should have left orignally at 5:50pm, (and it was now 7:15pm), the flight was now scheduled to leave at 7:25pm. Just ten minutes.

We were standing in terminal B and our flight was leaving out of terminal D in just under ten minutes. I told my family to do their best to keep up and then began running my guts out to reach the gate for our plane before it left the terminal.

After the first half mile I was feeling the burn. By the second half mile I was beginning to wonder if there was any sense in continuing to run. Soon I was completely unable to run due to exaustion and my pace had slowed to a fast walk.

Finally, I arrived at the gate. There was no one around other than one AA employee standing beside the Gate door which was open. There were no passengers anywhere. I managed to sprint the final few yards and handed her my boarding passes. She checked me onto the flight and instructed me to board the plane because it was leaving the gate any moment. I informed her that there were four other people right behind me who needed to be on that plane with me before I could board.

A few seconds later my family was in view. They ran the final steps and we checked onto the plane.

As we collapsed into our seats the pilot came over the intercom and apologized for not leaving the gate earlier because, although they had been ready to leave several minutes ago, there was a strange aircraft sitting right behind us that was blocking our exit. As soon as the aircraft moved out of the way, our plane could taxi out of the gate and leave. He apologized again for the unnatural delay.

My wife and I looked at each other and smiled through our breathless gasps for air. A few seconds later our plane began to back out of the gate.

We were going home.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Join the Subversive Network

This week's subscribers to the [Subversive Underground] got an inside peek at a project I was working on a few years ago designed as a carrier signal for the subversive message of the Kingdom.

(Hint: You can read all about it over at or by clicking "Subscribe to the [Subversive Underground] link at left).

Even though I still plan to put much of this subversive campaign into practice here in Orange County one day, I felt compelled this week to share the details of the plan with the 187 people on the [SU] list. Perhaps someone in our little subversive network has the means and the passion to duplicate this plan in their own city or community? Maybe my ideas will spark new ideas in their minds that will play out differently, but no less subversively and creatively?

For the longest time I've held back from using this blog and the accompanying [Subversive Underground] e-newsletter as a means of activism. Other than the occassional event like "" or the "End Slavery Now" campaign, or perhaps the upcoming Non-Con gathering, I've resisted the temptation to mobilize people to specific action.

I'm not even 100% sure that this week's [SU] will inspire anyone to do anything at all. Perhaps not. But still, the possibility is there and I do have the hope that the nearly 200 people who have subscribed to my weekly articles would feel the same way that I do about the Kingdom, the Gospel, and have a desire to make a real difference in their community.

Surely some of them must share my ideas or they wouldn't continue to remain on the list week after week.

My basic premise has always been that, for those who truly see The Kingdom, the Gospel is already more subversive than anything you or I could dream up. I've also assumed that those who read my articles and newsletter would already be involved in subversive dialogs with friends, or engaged in serving the poor, or living out the Gospel in tangible ways.

I've always loved the concept of a covert "Shadow Network" like the one employed by the fictional crime fighter "The Shadow". This nebulous assortment of operatives predated the Internet and could be mobilized with just a phone call to do the bidding of "The Shadow" in order to defeat the forces of darkness and multiply the reach of the mysterious crime fighter. In recent times comic book writer Warren Ellis would steal the idea and re-name it "The Global Frequency" but sans crime-fighting, gun-wielding hero.

In the real world there have been wonderful subversive experiments such as and my own while filmmakers have lead the way with websites supporting the Blair Witch project and The Matrix in order to drum up viral marketing and spark interest in their films.

What would a Kingdom campaign look like? Is there a way to intrigue everyday people into a dialog about the Gospel as Jesus did using stories and allegory and creative inspiration? I believe so.

Maybe the faithful 187 subscribers to the [Subversive Underground] have not acted yet because they have not been properly activated? If I were to activate them, what would they do? What could we accomplish?

Perhaps we'll see if anyone who reads this week's [SU] feels compelled by the Holy Spirit to take a subversive approach to communicating the Gospel of the Kingdom. If so, then maybe the activation is already underway? If not, then perhaps our time has not yet come.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?


Friday, December 14, 2007


By Keith Giles

It was Christmas week and I was in San Antonio, Texas visiting my sister-in-law. Her church was taking bags of groceries to a local housing project and my wife and I had brought our two little sons along with us to take part in the outreach.

After a quick prayer lead by my little seven-year-old, each of us took a grocery sack and started towards a row of houses across the street.

We knocked on the door and it was opened by an elderly Hispanic woman who looked at us with more than a bit of apprehension. After we introduced ourselves we told her we were offering a free bag of groceries as part of a Christmas outreach from an area church. She invited us inside and thanked us for the food, telling us that she was very hungry.

Standing in her tiny living room, I asked her if we could pray with her for anything. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, "The other day I was so lonely and down. I asked God if He was real to send me an angel so I'd know that He had not forgotten me." She stopped to look at my wife and two little boys and then turned back to me with tears welling in her eyes. "But He sent me four angels," she said.

We were all in tears as we held hands and prayed for Gods blessing in her life, for healing to her body and for her Grandchildren, and then we said goodbye, going next door to pass out another bag of groceries.

Such a simple act of kindness made a wealth of difference to a total stranger.
I will never forget that day, or that woman we prayed with. I know my two little sons will never forget it either.

It's moments like these that Jesus smiles on His children and rains down grace on His people. It's what we were made for.

Even the most casual reading of the New Testament Gospels reveals a Christ who was full of compassion for the poor.

In Mathew, chapter six, Jesus instructs his disciples on the finer points of how to give to the poor with the assumption that they would, of course, be about this practice. "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Jesus (Matthew 6:3)

It's with the same assumptive reasoning that he follows this up by saying "And when you pray" in the very next verse. His assumption was that His followers would be about doing these things.

1 John 3:17 says it even more strongly- "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?"

How can the love of God be in him?

Every single day, something like forty thousand people die of starvation and malnutrition in this world of ours. That's about twenty-seven people per minute. Even more alarming is the knowledge that, out of these, twenty of these are under the age of five. My youngest son is five.

I read a commentary recently that compared this number to the dropping of the first atomic bomb every three days.


The question is not whether or not people are hungry in the world. The facts are clear. People are most certainly in need, and not just in those Third World countries either.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had previously reported, based on a survey conducted in 1999, that ten percent of all U.S. households, representing 19 million adults and 12 million children, were "food insecure" because of lack of resources. Of these 10.5 million households, 3.1 million suffered from such severe conditions that USDA's very conservative measures classified them as "hungry." Five million adults and 2.7 million children live in these hungry households.

No, the question is not whether or not people are hungry, the question is whether or not God's people will rise up and do something about it.

I find it more than a little disturbing that every time Jesus tells a parable about someone who ends up in Hell, its because they were completely apathetic towards the poor around them.

For example, at the Judgement Seat described by Christ in Matthew 25, the goats are rejected because they were able to call Jesus Lord but had no compassion for those around them who were in need. In fact, seeing people hungry, naked, poor, and alone didn't seem to bother them at all.

Now, I'm not saying that if you don't serve the poor you're going to hell. But, Jesus does seem to use this as a sort of litmus test for those who truly belong to Him. Compassion for the poor is often used in scripture as evidence of salvation.

There's probably no better section of scripture to illustrate this point than in James, the second chapter, verses 14 to 19; "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, You have faith; I have deeds. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder."

The demons believe in a way you and I can't. They've seen God with their own eyes. They've heard the actual, audible voice of Jesus. They don't just believe; they know. But this belief doesn't have the power to save them or change them. It's belief without any corresponding action.

Demons believe, but they don't comfort the sick in hospitals. They don't knock on doors and hand out free groceries to the poor, but those who name the name of Christ can't help but serve those in need with complete joy.

True faith always involves action. Faith is doing something about what you believe.
God's Word is clear as crystal on this issue; Those who call themselves followers of Christ must look with compassion on these who are in need.

Peace (on Earth),


*NOTE: This article originally appeared in the print version of RELEVANT Magazine a few years ago.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Try to spend your money buying food and necessities for people who are really in need this Holiday season rather than buying something unnecessary for someone who doesn't need anything new.

Our family has made a point of reducing our Christmas gift purchases to only one gift for each person and one small gift for parents. All other spending will be to buy food and clothes for people who are in serious need of assistance and toys for the children who live in the motel in Santa Ana where we minister.

Christmas is about giving, and we should start with those who are truly in need.

Merry Christmas.

Peace (on Earth),

PS- This Sunday is the "Gap Protest" at stores in SF, NY, Miami and Costa Mesa, California. Join with hundreds of others as they give back their Gap, Inc. clothing made by children kept as slaves in India.

More info here:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Church Spends $1.3 Million On Christmas Pageant

Just imagine how many homeless families could be cared for, fed, given shelter and have the Gospel message demonstrated to them for what it cost to put on a show like this.

Makes me remember why I left the traditional church in order to give 100% of the tithe to the poor instead of spending on over the top distractions for the Saved.


Friday, December 07, 2007


by Keith Giles

I've been reading quite a bit lately about viral marketing, guerilla marketing, New Media, Web 2.0, and a lot of marketing-related articles dealing with the future of advertising trends.

I started asking myself, "Why does anyone read a blog at all?" and then specifically, "Why does anyone read THIS blog?" I have to confess I really don't know. Feel free to comment below if you have any insight to share.

I myself only read a handful of blogs. Most are written by friends of mine like Lisa Wahrmund, or Lito Bujanda-Moore, or Mike Burns and a few are blogs from marketing gurus like Seth Godin or from comic book industry people like Heidi MacDonald or creators like Brian Wood or artists like Eric Canete (for his usually daily art updates), or Paul Pope, or Derek Hess.

The only blog I read that is like mine is Mike Burns. Most of the blogs I read are to inform me about a friend's life, to catch new ideas on marketing, to view new art from a favorite artist, or to get news updates that I can't find on a mainstream website.

So, again, I ask, "Why does anyone read my blog?"

Some people, I know, read my blog because they are sent here by a link off one of my articles over at or, and maybe a few others get here from a link off another person's blog (but my guess is that's rare).

When I started this blog I think it was mainly to serve as an online repository of my articles which had been previously published on as part of my (then ongoing) column "Subversive". If you go waaayyy back on the "Archives" of this blog, for example, you'll find that the first 40 or so entries are all reprints (some with dead links and graphics) of articles from those Relevant Magazine columns. It was only after that was accomplished (and the column at RM ended) that I realized that, somehow, there were people actually READING my random posts here on the Christian subculture, discipleship to Jesus, Compassion Ministry and the Gospel of the Kingdom (and later, House Church).

Out of this blog grew the weekly e-newsletter [Subversive Underground] and out of that grew my first two books (see links at left).

Eventually I think this blog came to represent my attempt to communicate the subversive nature of the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached. I genuinely feel that I have a calling from God to write about what it means to follow Jesus. This is my ministry (along with the [SU] and my books, and The Mission house church).

I would love to think that, in some small way, I am part of a larger movement. I would like to believe that somehow my blog, my articles, my writing, is part of God's plan to motivate a generation of "Jesus Followers" who take the words of our Lord seriously enough to actually put them into practice.

I'm not the one who sets any agenda. I feel like I am part of a bigger agenda, God's agenda, for ushering in a wave of change within the Body of Christ.

If I had the bandwidth here's what I'd love to add to the online Subversive Universe one day:

1) Podcasts- I know I'm late to the party here, but I think it would be great if I could put together a semi-regular Subversive podcast. I've been encouraged to do just that by several friends of mine but I've not stepped into this yet because, mainly, I don't have the time…or a microphone for my laptop. I also don't want to do it if it's cheesy or crappy. I would also prefer to do it with a group of people having a conversation rather than me in my bedroom talking to myself. So…maybe next year, who knows?

2) Webzine/Moblog- This would be a web magazine on the subjects I care most about written by myself and several other bloggers and writers. So, I'd create a different blog-based webzine where other writers would regularly contribute articles on justice, discipleship, house church, Christian subculture, etc. I'd love to get contributors like Mike Burns, Crissy Brooks (MIKA CDC), Neil Cole (CMA Resources), David Ruis, John Fischer (see below), and others to post regular articles to a single webzine.

3) "Manifesto": Monthly One-Day Discussion Groups- This would be a way to gather a handful of people locally to get together for coffee and inspired conversation on topics like the house church, missional life, compassion ministry, impacting the culture, the Arts, etc. Sort of an open source "Non-Con" if you will.

Of course, the problem is that I am only one person. My ideas outstrip my ability to actualize them. I have a full-time job as an editorial copywriter, a wife and two children, two house churches to pastor, and several book projects in progress, all in addition to this blog and the weekly e-newsletter.

My plate is full right now.

Maybe in 2008? Or 2009?

We'll see….

From John Fischer: The In's and Out's Of It

One of my heroes is John Fischer. He's a songwriter, author and writer on subversive, kingdom issues that I've been following for many years now.

I first discovered John's writing when I first subscribed to CCM Magazine about twenty years ago (I've long since stopped reading that magazine, btw). John used to write the Last Word column in the back of every issue. I always found it ironic and fascinating that his articles were published in the handbook of Christian materialism, although they were consistently anti-subculture and thought-provoking.

Yesterday John's daily article was one that resonated with me (and you'll see why as soon as you start reading it). With his permission I've reprinted it here for your enjoyment.

The in's and out's of it by John Fischer

"In it, not of it," the statement was made
As Christian One faced the world, much afraid.
"In it, not of it," the call was made clear,
But Christian One got something stuck in his ear.
"Not in it, or of it," was the thing that he heard.
And knowing the world was painfully absurd,
He welcomed the safety of pious retreat,
And went to the potluck for something to eat.

Now Christian Two, he knew what to do,
He'd show those fundies a thing or two!
How will the world ever give Christ a try
If we don't get in there and identify?
So "In it, and of it," he said in his car,
As he pulled in and stopped at a popular bar.
"I'll tell them the truth as soon as I'm able
To get myself out from under this table."

Now along comes Christian Three jogging for Jesus,
In witnessing sweats made of four matching pieces.
His earphones are playing a hot Christian tune
About how the Lord is coming back soon.
"Not in it, but of it," he turns down the hill
And stops in for a bite at the Agape Grill.
Like the gold on the chain of his "God Loves You" bracelet,
He can have the world without having to face it.

While way up in heaven they lament these conditions
That come from changing a few prepositions.
"Not in it, or of it," Christian One thought.
But who in the world will know that he's not?
"In it, and of it," thought Christian Two.
But who in the world will know that he knew?
"Not in it, but of it," thought Christian Three.
But who in the world watches Christian TV?

And Jesus turns to Gabriel, shaking His head.
"'In it, not of it,' wasn't that what I said?"

John Fischer publishes a DAILY e-newsletter called "Catch of the Day". I subscribe to it and you should too. There's a sign up over on his website here:

A word from John Fischer:

"Here are some books you should have under your belt if you are writing your way out of the Christian subculture. You may already know of these but I wanted to be sure:

*Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture by Terry Mattingly
*Fearless Faith: Living Beyond the Walls of Safe Christianity by John Fischer
*The Culturally Savvy Christian: A Manifesto for Deepening Faith and Enriching Popular Culture in an Age of Christianity-Lite by Dick Staub
*The Rock and Roll Rebellion: Why people of faith abandoned rock music--and why they're coming back by Mark Joseph
*Raised by Wolves: The Story of Christian Rock and Roll" by John J. Thompson
*At the Crossroads: An Insider's Look at the Past, Present, and Future of Contemporary Christian Music

And then there is Frank Schaeffer's new book: Crazy for God: How I Grew Up As One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back -- which is pretty much a time bomb ticking in the heart of the Christian subculture. (I love it!)

Hope this helps,

John Fischer

Thursday, December 06, 2007


My oldest son, Dylan, turned twelve years old this week.

This week's [Subversive Underground] is a write up about what God reminded me as I contemplated this significant event. (See link below to sign up for the free, weekly e-newsletter. You can also read the most recent article).

In the next twelve months I have made a covenant with my son to spend more time with him. He and I are going to be getting up early each morning to read the Bible together. Currently we're reading 1 Samuel about the calling of David to be God's annointed over Israel.

In addition to this, I've promised my son that I will make it a priority to spend more time with him each month. He and I will spend time together talking about our week, sharing what we've learned about life, and basically getting to know each other more.

I'm realizing that this next year is a gift from God for me to be the Father I've always wanted to be, before Dylan turns thirteen next year and his hormones begin slowly pulling him away from Wendy and I.

When I was younger, before I got married, I used to imagine how great it would be to have a son and to take drives in the car with him, just the two of us, talking about what was on our minds, sharing stories and laughing together. For the most part I've never made a conscious effort to create that sort of relationship with my sons. I don't think my sons are alienated from me, by any means. We do love to hang out together and laugh and play games and go places and talk about life, etc. But, for some reason, the idea of my son turning twelve this week really made me pause and take stock of what sort of father I want to be over the next few years. I want my sons to know they can talk to me about anything. I want them to know that they are more important to me than anything else I may have going on in my life.

I realized that the only way they would really ever know that is if I actually do something, on purpose, to demonstrate it to them.

So, over the next twelve months, my oldest son Dylan and I will be getting together more often to talk. Sometimes we'll stay up a bit later (after his younger brother is in bed) to hang out and talk in the den together. Sometimes we'll take a trip to the park or to grab an ice cream or whatever just to do something fun.

I know that I will also have to mark out an equal amount of time for my youngest son, David too. I don't want to send the message that I'm playing favorites either. So, both my sons will be seeing more of me over the next several years.

As much as I love all these creative projects I'm working on, like my new books and the Non-Con coming up, and the house church, there's nothing more important to me than my family.

I guess my son isn't the only one coming of age this week.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Peace Is So Uncool

Peace Is So Uncool

by Keith Giles

Jesus was a man of peace. He said that those who made peace would be called the Sons of God.

To be someone who loves peace and brings peace and makes peace is to be like the Son of's to be like Jesus.

It's so curious to me that the American Church seems, at least politically, to be Pro-War.

Wouldn't Jesus be surprised at this development? Don't you think He's disappointed in the Church that bears His name?

Jesus said that he was sending us out like lambs among the wolves. It's just not cool to be the lamb is it? Lambs are goofy looking. They don't have any defense mechanism. Even skunks and rabbits have something to fight back with, but lambs can't run fast, dig holes to hide in, scratch with their claws or exude a repulsive odor. They just go "baaaa" and sit there looking wooly.

Without the Shepherd, they're toast actually.

At this time of the year, where the followers of Jesus stop to remember the birth of the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, let us also remember that the Angels who announced His birth sang of Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men.