Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Awesome article over at Mark Main's blog "The Untried".

You must go and read it now.

Here's a taste:

"If you have read much of this blog you know that I am not a fan of today's institutional church system for a variety of reasons. I know many don't understand my cynicism.

Churches have spent more money just on buildings in less than twenty years than it would take to eradicate hunger and many diseases from children in Africa. Add in salaries, utilities, and all the other things churches spend money on and I can only guess how much money has been spent simplyon 'the faithful'.

That is why I am so frustrated by what I see marketed as Christianity in this country today. Is spending 28 billion dollars on nice buildings for our Sunday morning meetings more important than showing grace, mercy, compassion, and love by helping those in Africa who are dying at a rate of over 25,000 a day from starvation and preventable disease? Obviously, for American Christianity the answer to that question is a resounding YES. You can claim that isn't the case, but the facts are undeniable. American Christianity has basically said that the sickness and starvation of others isn't nearly as important as it's need for bigger, nicer buildings. Do you realize how perverse that is?"


Monday, December 29, 2008


My good friend John Thomas, pastor of Soul Survivor Church in Costa Mesa, CA was interviewed in a great article for the Orange County Register about churches who have decided to focus their attention on the poor rather than on themselves.

Read it

Sunday, December 28, 2008


As I spend time in my old stomping grounds here in El Paso I cannot help but imagine all the ways I could jack things up here in this sleepy border town.

From guerilla marketing messages inserted in local bookstore shelves, to under the radar flyers on car windshields and subversive messages in unexpected places, I am seriously wondering how long it would take for me to be run out of this town on a rail if I ever returned to live here.

Perhaps I might preach a sermon in a local church...at least once before my name was added to the "do not call" list, or perhaps I might buy a billboard along I-10 to challenge the complacency of local churches who ignore the thousands of poor who are just across the border, and along her own streets, daily.

I have no illusions of becoming an infamous dark hero in this place. I'm certain my infamy would be more like actual threats against my life and complete black-listing by the Christian churches here. Would I be willing to speak out and make waves if I knew it would mean an actual backlash against my family, against my parents, or my wife and children?

I want to ask people here, "Does your Church preach the Gospel"? I want to challenge them to see the poor around them, and the heart of God for the poor in their Bibles, and the calling of God for His people to love them in action and in truth, not with words or empty promises.

I can't imagine living here and sitting still while week after week pastors from the pulpit preach about bringing your lost friend's to church as if that is the fulfillment of the Gospel of Jesus. What happened to "Go into all the world"? What happened to "making disciples"? What happened to "teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you"?

Seriously. What happened? I really don't know.

There are those here in El Paso who do serve the poor and who do live out a radical example of the Gospel of the Kingdom in their everyday life. One is my friend Tim Gamwell who has given his life to help as many children living in poverty in Juarez, Mexico and here in El Paso as he can...to the point of becoming one of the poor himself as he supports them out of his own pocket and lives without many of the conveniences others take for granted in order to care for just one more child.

If I ever did return to this place I would be honored to serve alongside Tim and his family as they serve these children and implore the Churches in this area to open their hearts, and their wallets, to touch the poor all around them.

I cannot reconcile a church of thousands - mostly white, upper-to-middle class christians - who invest over $40k to put on an over-the-top show to count hands raised (those who said the sinner's prayer) and fails to give as much attention or thought towards what to do with those 1,500 people after the fact. Making disciples, or making converts? I don't understand the misdirection of priority.

To be honest, I pray with all my heart that God does not call me to return here. If so, I would certainly obey Him, but I would come knowing that the battle would be long and that hearts would need to be softened over time.

Maybe I could set up an El Paso chapter of Subversive operatives who could carry out this mission in my absence? Are there any out there who are willing to wear that target on their back for the Gospel of the Kingdom? Are there any here in El Paso willing to stand up and speak out this message of compassion for the poor?

I pray that God would raise up an army like this. Who knows? Maybe they are already out there and I just haven't heard of them or met them yet? Maybe they are dropping flyers into Church bathrooms as I write this? Maybe...


Saturday, December 27, 2008


I can't describe the great joy Wendy and I had yesterday spending a few hours with some dear friends from college (UT El Paso), some of whom we had not seen since graduation over 15 years ago.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Our family is in El Paso visiting my parents for Christmas. Already we've run into several old friends in unexpected places and catching up with other friends we've not seen in years.

I find myself scanning the crowd in every restaurant and grocery story looking for familiar faces. It's weird.

Looking forward to Christmas day tomorrow, although I've already had my best Christmas (see post over at www.MissionHouseChurch.com)

On Friday we're having a reunion with some of our dear college friends and today and tonight I'll be hanging with other friends for coffee, etc.

Hope all of you have a great Christmas celebration and that the New Year is full of blessing.

Peas (on Earth),

Monday, December 15, 2008


Rather than buying something unnecessary for someone in your life who already has a house full of stuff, try to spend your money buying food and necessities for people who are really in need this Holiday season

Our family has made a point of reducing our Christmas gift purchases to only one gift for each person in our immediate family. 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.

Peace (on Earth),

Friday, December 12, 2008


Last Saturday morning I drove my oldest son out to Oak Canyon Nature Center in Anaheim Hills. It was the day after his 13th birthday.

We walked together across the parking lot and I let him walk alone down the main trail into the woods. After a few feet his Aunt Felicia met him and walked alongside him, encouraging him and reminding him what a special young man he is. Then she stopped at the bridge and let him walk on further alone.

A few feet down the trail another friend, Scott Laumann, stepped out and walked with Dylan along the trail. They stopped and watched the colors in the morning sky for a while and Scott gave him advice on being responsible, seeking God and hearing His voice.

When they were done Dylan walked alone down the path a bit more until Jacob Wright met him along the trail. Jacob is just 15. Dylan looks up to him quite a bit. It was only a few years ago that Dylan had been part of Jacob's 13th birthday celebration. Now Jacob was sharing with Dylan what he had learned about becoming a young man after God's heart.

After their talk Dylan walked on and met Jacob's father, Jason, who talked to him about about how most of what we learn is from walking with God through difficult circumstances.

Dylan went on down the trail and was met by his Aunt Tina and his Grandmother, and finally, at the end of the trail, by his Grandfather Gerald. They turned and walked all the way back out of the woods together as Dylan listened intently.

When they reached the beginning of the trail Dylan's family was there waiting for him and together we drove home.

That afternoon we presented Dylan with a sword - a leather-bound, NIV Study Bible with his name engraved in gold leaf on the cover.

Our house church family, and a few friends were there to encourage him further, lay hands on him and bless him as he took his first tentative steps into manhood.

God bless you, my son.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Jesus came to destroy the Temple. His resurrection was the formal ground-breaking on the New Temple - Your Body.

The reason the New Testament church didn't have buildings? They WERE the building.

The reason the New Testament church didn't pay their elders, shepherds and overseers? Because you don't pay your family members to love you or care for you.

The reason the New Testament church didn't have any blood sacrifice (as every other religion around them did)? Because not only was Jesus the first and ultimate sacrifice, but this new temple, the new priesthood (that's us) also became the living sacrifices as well.

So, fast forward 300 years and a Roman Emperor establishes a new way of doing church. He gives them buildings. He pays their leaders. This was a new addition. It had not been practiced until Constantine instituted it.

Fast forward another 400 years: The Church starts to require a tithe from their members. Before this only free will offerings were given.

Fast forward to our day and time: We're still paying our leaders and building temples to worship in.

I would submit that Jesus had a plan in mind for His Church. He communicated that plan eloquently. He modelled the leadership structure He expected. He knelt down and washed their feet. He told them to do the same to one another. He warned them not to "lord it over" their brothers or to call one another "Father" because they were all brothers and equals in the eyes of God.

The Family of God has one Father. His name is God. The Body of Christ has one head. His name is Jesus.

For over 700 years the church of Jesus took no tithes. All of the money freely given was collected and spent on the poor and the orphan and the widow.

That is New Testament Christianity. If you want to practice something else, something "new and improved" feel right at home. I do not condemn anyone for that.

But, as for me and my house, we will follow the New Testament and seek to "Be the Church" that Jesus commanded his disciples to plant, by the Grace of God.

If you want to study the subject you will quickly see that the New Testament knows nothing of hierarchy. Plenty of Biblical scholars from all backgrounds and denominations agree on this point...even Catholic scholars! The NT church was not a hierarchy, it was a family.

Blessings, Keith


On Saturday evening our family attended the opening of an art show. Several friends of mine had pieces in the show and we were there to support them and enjoy the art together.

As part of the evening they had tables set up in the cafe area where children could create their own art and hang it up. The theme was "Courage".

My youngest son, David drew a great picture of a homeless man begging for food and someone placing money into his hands. It was a picture of courage because the poor man had to have courage to humble himself and beg, and the person giving the money needed courage to step out and do the right thing, and to trust God to provide even though he was giving away some of his money.

My oldest son, Dylan (who turns 13 on Friday) took a long time to finish his drawing. He wouldn't allow anyone to look until he was done so we gave him his space and allowed him to take his time and finish.

When he was done I watched him hand it to the woman behind the table who looked at it, asked him about the drawing and then gave him tape to hang it on the wall. When I walked over and looked at the drawing he had done it was a man with a beard and glasses wearing a red t-shirt and a green jacket. At first I wasn't sure how this exemplified "courage" but then I realized that this person in the drawing was me.

Dylan came over and explained that he drew me because of the times when our family was financially struggling because I was out of work and I did temporary jobs to support the family. That was what he thought of when they asked him to draw a picture of "courage".

I can't tell you how proud I am of my sons.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Here's list of things I'm thankful for:

* My amazing wife Wendy. She is everything I could have ever hoped for or dreamed of in a wife. I am constantly amazed by her and in awe of her daily.

* My sons Dylan (almost 13) and David (almost 11). They're both such great sources of joy for me. I'm honored and humbled to be their Dad.

* Our house church family at The Mission - These people are gold. I could go on and on about how each person and each family blesses me and inspires me and encourages me. When Wendy and I stepped out 3 years ago to do this crazy house church thing we had no idea who, if anyone, would join us. God has brought us some of the most amazing people and I am very thankful for each of them.

* Coffee - Two cups every morning before human interaction. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream per cup to sweeten, cool and add cream. Thank you God for coffee.

* Music - Where would we be without it? The power of music to heal, to inspire, and to communicate emotion is so amazing. Thank you God for music.

* Art - Sometimes I crave some time alone to just sit and soak in great art. I'll never be a visual artist of any merit, but even the attempt at creating art is cathartic for me. I wish I had more time to focus on it.

* Hulu.com - Without this website I couldn't watch The Daily Show with John Stewart, or those episodes of "Fringe" or "Heroes" I missed. Sweet, sweet Hulu.com, how I love thee.

* My job - Looking at the economy makes me very thankful that I even have a job at all these days. Of course, after being out of work for over a year before this job I am very grateful to work as a writer for a great company in a creative capacity. Thank you Jesus!

* Seeqpod.com - Thanks to this free music streaming site I can build my own playlists, discover new music and share it with my friends. Seeqpod helped me find great new artists like Ray LaMontagne, Anne Nalick, The Fray, Secret Machines, and Flight of the Condor. Plus I've built great playlists like "Gr80's", "Spy Film Music", "Rage Against the @#$% Machine", "Nirvana/Foo Fighters", and every song by David Gray and Snow Patrol. Man, I love me some Seeqpod.

*Movies - This year I've been impacted by "Into the Wild", "What Would Jesus Buy?", "Under The Same Moon", "The Dark Knight", "Wall-E", "Quantum of Solace", and "Taare Zameen Par (Every Child Is Special)". Love my Netflix and the local dollar theater. Can't wait to see "Synecdoche, New York", "The Soloist", and the new JJ Abrahms "Star Trek" re-launch next year.

*Asian Food - I could seriously eat chinese food every meal, every day for the rest of my life and be happy. Especially love Thai, Mongolian BBQ, and Chinese. Not Japanese (hate Sushi) and not Vietnamese (at least not yet). I have had some amazing authentic Korean food locally thanks to a friend who speaks the lingo and knows where to go. Love me some Asian food. Mmmm….maybe we could do Chow Mein and Orange Chicken for Thanksgiving this year?

*Facebook - Never liked MySpace but this new Facebook thing is awesome. My actual friends from my actual life are on there and we correspond in various ways every single day. I get to see when they upload new photos, I get to let them know what I'm doing and see what they're doing. It's a slice of online heaven. I've actually started to make a long list of "Keith is…" statements to make sure I always have a great one to write each day. My faves so far are: "Keith is pinching a loaf", "Keith always gives 110% because he's not very good at math", "Keith is projectile vomiting", "Keith made you look!", "Keith is a south pole elf", "Keith would like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony". I can't wait to unleash the rest of my list! Oh, please send me more flair.

*My Parents - They constantly amaze me, really. I can't put into words just how thankful I am for Godly parents and for their unending generosity and love for me. They're awesome people and I am very grateful for them both.

*In-N-Out Cheeseburgers - For those of you who don't live in Southern California, who will never know the exquisite joy of eating a Double-Double cheeseburger and extra-crispy fries, I weep for you…or maybe it's just the awesome taste of burger perfection? I don't want to know. Pass the ketchup, please.

*Philip K. Dick - One of the most consistently insane and brilliant writers who ever lived. You owe it to yourself to read "Ubik", "Flow My Tears the Policeman Said", "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and "The Man Who Japed". His short story collections are awesome too. Our local library has actual signed copies of his hardcovers on the shelf. I confess I've wondered how much the fee would be if I checked them all out and "lost them". He's a genius.

*Charlie Kauffman - Can't say enough about "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or "Adaptation" for sheer creative and emotional brilliance. Can't wait to watch "Synecdoche, NY" soon.

These are just some of the many things I'm thankful for. What are you thankful for?


Monday, November 24, 2008

What Do You Want From Me?

Yesterday at house church we did an art exercise led by our own Heather Wright.

After everyone had closed their eyes, Heather asked us to imagine being in the crowd as Jesus taught the Beatitudes on the hillside. She asked us to imagine the feel of the ground beneath our feet, the smell in the air, the warmth of the sun on our face.

As Jesus taught she asked us to think about how we felt as we listened to him speak, to imagine what his voice sounded like. To look at the faces of the others around us and to gauge their reactions. Then Jesus stopped teaching and turned and walked over the top of the hill with his disciples. Where was he going? Would you follow him?

Suddenly Jesus returns and walks straight towards you. He takes your face in his hands and looks directly into your eyes. Do you look into his eyes? Do you look down? Do you look away? He asks you, "What do you want for me to do for you?"

Everyone then took a scrap of paper and spent time writing or drawing what their response was to this question, or just what they felt or saw during this exercise.

As I sat there with the paper in my hand I could feel a burning deep in my chest. Earlier that morning a good friend had called me to ask if there was anything I was praying about. I told him about something that was on my heart for possible ministry opportunities at the motel where we serve. My friend corrected me, "No, I mean is there something personal that you're asking God for? Is there something for yourself that you want God to answer for you or to do for you?"

I couldn't come up with anything but I told my friend I would let him know if I thought of something.

Now, here I was, sitting on my sofa in house church and Heather was leading me to Jesus and he was looking directly into my eyes, and Jesus was asking me once again, "What do you want me to do for you?"

I was overwhelmed with emotion. Twice in the same day God had directly asked me to tell him what was on my heart. What was it I wanted from him? Why couldn't I answer this question?

After praying about this and searching my heart deeply, I knew in that moment, standing before Jesus with his hands on my face and the question in his eyes, I knew that there was only one answer I could give.

What would your answer be?


Friday, November 21, 2008

So far to go....

As I've been reading more about the Church that God prophesied about and that Jesus inspired and the Apostles promoted and planted and modelled I am realizing that there is still so much to unpack and understand. More than I ever imagined.

I'm currently reading a great book by G.K. Beale called "The Temple and the Church's Mission" which is so full of mind-blowing exegesis from the Old Testament and corrolation in the New Testament that I can hardly grasp all of it at once. My brain hurts a little each time I read it. But it's a good hurt. A very good hurt.

Hopefully I will be able to fully digest all of what this book unpacks for me about God's promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, about his promise to build a temple "not made by human hands" and about a Church which fulfills all of this and more from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel through Matthew, Mark, Acts, the letters of Peter, the Revelation of John and the teaching of Paul.

I pray that I can understand it all well enough to communicate it back to others both here and in my book-in-progress. I really feel that God has been urging me to dig deeper and deeper into this subject, but the deeper I dig the more I uncover.

It's profound.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


My book "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" has been downloaded 513 times to date.

"Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" has been downloaded 434 times to date.

If you haven't already, be sure to click the link below and download a FREE PDF copy of both today.


My third book (in progress now) should be available early next year. It's about God's specific plan for His New Testament Church according to Old Testament Prophecy, the words of Jesus and the practice of the early church as lead by the Apostles.

Working title: "Jesus Called. He Wants His Church Back"


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Love, Less Politics

American Christians will always be frustrated by a desire to see our laws correspond with the Bible. The truth is, it never will. Why? Because our laws are built around a document called the Constitution, not the scriptures.

So, for example, if our courts have to determine whether or not it is legal to enforce a law that gives one set of rights to some people and a different set of rights to others, they will look at the Constitution and see that everyone is considered equal under the law and rule against that law.

Under the law of our land people have the right to enter into marriage with one another. Any law that gives this right to some people and takes it away for others will be considered unconstitutional.

Christians will always want those laws to be interpreted primarily by the Bible and secondarily by the Constitution, but since these two documents have different authors, and different purposes, they will not agree on most issues, including homosexual marriage.

When our nation was founded and our Constitution was written, they did not feel any need to write down laws which reinforced the morality and the common practice of society around them. It was a given. Therefore they wrote laws which, in tandem with their existing morality and observable societal norms, combined to create a harmonious nation of free people.

What has changed? Our Constitution is fundamentally the same, but the morality and practice of our society has changed. The laws we write cannot hope to touch our inner person. Laws do not change hearts.

If you hope to write and create laws to govern society you look to politicians and lawyers and presidents. However, if you hope to influence behaviors and change the heart of a person you look to clerics, priests, teachers and parents.

Our society has failed to live up to the ideals of our past because our churches have failed to pass on the morality and the practice of hospitality and brotherly love. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. We have not been known for our love. Our laws have stayed the same, but our Churches have gotten off track and lost focus.

American Christians have become so disillusioned with the world around them, and yet they have no one to blame but themselves. For the last several decades the Church in America has been embracing a mentality of retreat. We have created a neat and comfortable little version of the world with a cross on top where our interaction with "those unbelievers out there" is minimized as much as possible.

Because we have refused to be salt and light as Jesus commanded us, the society around us has slowly become more and more "un-Christian" and really, what else should we expect it to become like? If we have reduced our interactions with others, focused all of our time and energy on ourselves, built larger and more expensive buildings to hide in, and invested millions of dollars building empires of entertainment, fashion and communication to occupy our time and tell us what we want to hear, how else should our world have developed in our absence?

In our frustration we have now turned to politics to create the change we have failed to create by avoiding contact with unbelievers. Now we hope to dominate these people politically and have our way, regardless of whether or not they agree.

In some ways, I wonder if it's too late for any of this. Too late for us to get back to our original calling to love and serve and live out the selfless beauty of the Gospel. Too late to attempt any sort of dialog with people we have avoided for so very long. Too late to be the Church that Jesus intended for us to be.

The solution to the problems facing American society is not found in changing our laws, and even if it were that would be a job for a lawyer or a politician, not a follower of Jesus.

Our only job is to love and to serve and to model a society where all people are equally important in the eyes of God.

Let's do our best to obey our Lord and Savior when he commands us to be known for our love.

If it's not too late....


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Happy Birthday (To Me) - November 9


Yes, forty two years ago 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, friends. Hope to be here a bit longer before I join the flatulent angels.



Monday, November 03, 2008

Not My Church

Yesterday at house church God reminded me of something pretty important: This is not my church. It's His.

Seems like I would have figured this out already, and of course I "knew" this, but in practice I have been acting as if The Mission House Church were mine. It is not. It is God's Bride. I am blessed to host the weekly gatherings in my home, but it is not mine. I am only one member of this awesome family of God, and I am very grateful for each person who contributes their time, energy, talent, gifting and resources to this living organism.

Needless to say, yesterday was a significant day in the life of our house church and I was very blessed to sit at the back of the room and observe the Spirit of God as He lead us through the conversation and taught us from His Word.

More later...

Monday, October 20, 2008


Imagine the conversation between an unbelieving Pagan in the first century and a follower of The Way:

Pagan: "I would like to know more about this Christ you speak of. Where is your temple?"

Christian: "We don't have one."

Pagan: "What? Then where does one go to meet with your God?"

Christian: "We are all the Temple of the Holy Spirit, so God meets with us wherever we are."

Pagan: "Hmm...then where do you conduct your sacrifices?"

Christian: "We have no animal sacrifice at all. Jesus became our sacrifice so that we could be free. Our only sacrifices are our own lives as we surrender to Him and His will every day."

Pagan: "Fascinating! I would love to meet your Priest to learn more about this."

Christian: "Well, I am a Priest."

Pagan: "You are?! But I thought you sold pottery in the marketplace? How can you be a Priest in this new religion?"

Christian: "You can be one also if you submit your life to Christ and place your trust in Him. We are all Priests of God."

Wasn't it a radically different system of faith that Jesus breathed into life 2000 years ago?

Isn't this a radically different system of faith than anything we have today?

Can someone explain to me why it should be different than what Jesus taught, inspired and promoted for His Church?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Biblical Scholarship In Support of Non-Hierarchy in the Church

Perhaps you have been following the very lengthy debate and commentary going on here on this blog (under the article "Response to Exploitation or Empowerment?") and over at the [Subversive Underground] e-newsletter blog article "Out of Business"?

As part of this discussion, my good friend and brother in Christ, Paul Martin, has challenged my view of a non-hierarcichal Church in the New Testament, and therefore today's expression of Church.

One of the most troublesome statements by my friend in this ongoing dialog has been the idea that "Your model of church polity is rejected by virtually every--TRAINED--biblical scholar today and over the past 2,000 years."

Here are some quotes by renowned and respected Biblical Scholars to refute this erroneous statement and lend support to my argument that hierarchy developed over time:

"In the Catholic Church there are two classes, clergy and laity . . . . This structure does not correspond to what Jesus did and taught. Consequently it has not had a good effect in the history of the Church . . . . Among his disciples Jesus did not want any distinction of class or rank . . . . In contradiction to this instruction of Jesus, a “hierarchy,” a “sacred authority,” was nevertheless formed in the third century - Herbert Haag (a Roman Catholic), Upstairs, Downstairs: Did Jesus Want a Two-Class Church?, Crossroad, 1997, p.109.

"Our survey has shown us that no cultic priesthood is to be found in the New Testament. Yet we wound up importing Old Testament Levitical forms and imposing them on Christian ministry . . . . Nevertheless in practice there is no denying that there has historically been a gathering into one person and his office what were formerly the gifts of many . . . .[This practice] goes astray, of course, when it translates to mean that only ordination gives competence, authority, and the right of professional governance. It goes further astray when eventually all jurisdictional and administrative powers in the church come to be seen as an extension of the sacramental powers conferred at ordination. In short, there is a movement here away from the more pristine collaborative and mutual ministries of the New Testament." - William Bausch, (A Roman Catholic) in Traditions, Tensions, Transitions in Ministry, Twenty-Third Publications, 1982, pp. 54, 30.

"Increasing institutionalism is the clearest mark of early Catholicism - when church becomes increasingly identified with institution, when authority becomes increasingly coterminous with office, when a basic distinction between clergy and laity becomes increasingly self-evident, when grace becomes increasingly narrowed to well-defined ritual acts. We saw above that such features were absent from first generation Christianity, though in the second generation the picture was beginning to change." - D.G. Dunn, Unity & Diversity in the New Testament, Westminster Press, 1977, p.351.

"The clergy-laity dichotomy is a direct carry-over from pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism and a throwback to the Old Testament priesthood. It is one of the principal obstacles to the church effectively being God’s agent of the kingdom today because it creates a false idea that only ‘holy men,’ namely, ordained ministers, are really qualified and responsible for leadership and significant ministry. In the New Testament there are functional distinctions between various kinds of ministries but no hierarchical division between clergy and laity. The New Testament teaches us that the church is a community in which all are gifted and all have ministry." - Howard Snyder

"Prayer was offered, as in the Synagogue, but not in stated liturgical form. It was uttered freely, on the impulse of the Spirit, and was presented in the name of Christ, the Intercessor . . . The Christian faith gave rise to hymns of a new character, often produced in the heat of the moment and almost as soon forgotten; but sometimes short lyrics of real beauty were treasured and repeated . . . Chief of all these [elements] was the observance of the Supper . . . This, indeed, was not so much a part of the worship as the vessel which contained all the parts. The purpose of the Christian meeting was to hold the common meal, and to make it a memorial of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples . . . The exercise of the spiritual gifts was thus the characteristic element in primitive worship. Those gifts might vary in their nature and degree according to the capacity of each individual, but they were bestowed on all and room was allowed in the service for the participation of all who were present. “When you meet together,” says Paul, “each of you hath a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, an interpretation.” Every member was expected to contribute something of his own to the common worship . . . . Worship in those first days was independent of all forms." - Ernest F. Scott, from The Nature of the Early Church, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1941, pp.75,77,79,87.

"There are few more reliable constants running through all human society than the special place every human community makes for the professional religionist . . . in every case he disposes a unique quality, which he usually possesses for life, which alone qualifies him for his function, and beside which the mass of men are identifiable negatively as “laymen,” i.e., non-bearers of this special quality . . . One person per place is enough to do what he needs to do . . . the clergyman mediates between the common life and the realm of the “invisible” or the “spiritual” . . . No one balks at what his services cost" - John H. Yoder, “The Fullness of Christ,” reprinted in Searching Together, 11:3, 1982, pp.4-7.

"Properly speaking, New Testament Christianity knows nothing of the word “sacrament,” which belongs essentially to the heathen world of the Graeco-Roman empire and which unfortunately some of the Reformers unthinkingly took over from ecclesiastical tradition. For this word, and still more the overtones which it conveys, is the starting point for those disastrous developments which began soon to transform the community of Jesus into the Church which is first and foremost a sacramental Church" - Emil Brunner, The Misunderstanding of the Church, Lutterworth, 1952, pp.72-73).

"1 Cor. 14:26 gives us one form of early Christian worship. There is no mention of worship leaders or of reading the Torah. Rather each brings a song (perhaps sung in the Spirit), a teaching, a revelation. The impression is of a real act of the body, not merely the performance of a noted few. - Ben Witherington, Conflict in Corinth, p.285.

Additionally, Bruce Winter in his book "Philo and Paul Among the Sophists" (Cambridge University Press, 1997) and Duane Litfin’s "St. Paul’s Theology of Proclamation" (Cambridge University Press, 1994) make the following points:

- Paul renounces Greek rhetorical techniques in preaching that are marked by exalting the art of eloquence. To Paul, these undermined the power of God and the centrality of the cross.

- Paul writes: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God …. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power….” 1 Cor. 2:1, 4-5. Winter believes that Paul had the sophists in view.
- Paul rejected the rhetorical methods of the sophists so that he would not be aligned with them in any way.

- Winter argues that 1 Cor. 1:17 focuses on the rhetorical skill of the speaker. Paul argues against rhetorical artistry because it obscures the proclamation of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

- The sophists charged for their services while Paul offered his gospel free of charge and worked manually lest he be a burden to the churches.

- Paul’s presence in public and his delivery style were deficient according to the standards of Greek rhetoric (2 Cor. 10:10).

- Paul and Apollos were not judged in terms of their rhetorical abilities. Paul renounces the employment of rhetoric in preaching in 1 Cor. 1-2 because it conflicts with the message of the cross. Preaching based on Greco-Roman rhetoric displays the artistry and personality of the speaker and puts the focus on the speaker rather on Christ. This is why Paul denounces such preaching. God saves through the weakness of the cross and the brokenness of the vessel used, therefore, the gospel should not advertise the strength of the speaker by “wowing” his hearers with his rhetorical artistry. This, according to Winter, compromises the gospel.

When one says that the notion that anyone can teach, preach, or prophesy on a regular basis is unbiblical, they are dead wrong. While the NT teaches (and the authors agree) that not all Christians are specifically gifted as teachers, prophets, or apostles, it also teaches that every Christian is a minister, a functioning priest, and is capable of instructing, prophesying, and exhorting in the church.

Here are just a few examples from the NT literature itself:
**1 Cor. 14:31 - For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. [This is not relegated to prophets only. See R. Banks, H. Snyder, G. Fee, F.F. Bruce, and many of other scholars on this point.]

**Rom. 15:14 - I myself am convinced, my brethren, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. [These words were written to the church in Rome and included all believers].

**Heb. 10:25 - Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another … [Note that this has reference to the normative meeting of the church. This clearly shows us then that the congregation is active during the meeting and is engaged in exhorting “one another” and “provoking “one another” to love and to good works (v.24). There’s nothing here about passively listening to one man. The same point is made in 1 Cor. 14:26.

These and other scholarly references and sources can be found

This link (above), where I took each of these quotes, involves another online debate betweeen Biblical Scholars and Historians Jon Zens and Ben Witherington concerning the evidence for a relational, Christ-centric house church in the First and Second Century and the arguments laid out in Frank Viola's book, "Pagan Christianity".

I hope this is helpful to, if nothing else, clarify the misconception that "virtually no TRAINED Biblical scholars agree" with my view of Church polity.


Friday, October 10, 2008



Toothy baby smiles
refrigerator messages
convey magnetic declarations
of devotion

Stick figures dance
together on the crayon sky

and this will be the rest of your life
remembering the sound of laughter
closing your eyes against the pillow
playing these scenes over again
and again, slowing down the film
to get a closer look at the sunlight
on the smiling face
the big blue eyes

Soft, tiny fingers on your skin
slobbery kisses against your morning cheek
dream reports at the edge of dawn
warm hugs beneath the covers
cuddling arms that barely reach

and this will be the rest of our life
together, remembering
the sound of all this laughter
the off-key songs from the backseat
the words all wrong
and stories that always end the same

Hand in hand
we are a family
forever, together

and this is what it means
to be loved
and to love
with every breath

This is what it means

By Keith Giles

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Heather Cosby tagged me to share this with all of you so, here goes...

4 things I was doing 10 years ago:

1- Working at Vineyard Music Group - Yes, I was hired on as their Wholesale Music Sales Director. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had and that entire experience was still one of the best seaons of my life. I loved VMG, I loved working with a "dream team" that included Dave Hackbarth, Jeff Searles, Brock Shinen, Lee Swope, Paul Martin, Brian Eichler and Chris Wimber. Chris was one of the best bosses I've ever worked for and I know there are those who would laugh if they read this because he wasn't really a great manager per se, but for me Chris excelled at envisioning his executive staff and empowering them to succeed. His funeral was one of the most amazing and signifcant events in my life.

2- Recording the Elysian Skies Cd, "Exquisite Whisper" - It was one of my lifelong dreams to record at the amazing Green Room in Huntington Beach. My friend and guitarist John Wahrmund and I wrote songs through the mail and my friend J.J. Plasencio (the bassist for "Sixpence None The Richer" at the time, and later "Plumb") agreed to produce our Cd. My friends Bill Scmidt and John Feiery joined us and the amazing Andy Prickett ("The Prayer Chain") engineered our recording and even played a guitar solo on our first track. My wife Wendy even sang background vocals on a couple of tracks too, which was very, very special to me. It took us almost two years to record, mix, master and manufacture the Cd, but it got great reviews over at the Phantom Tollbooth and True Tunes and our track "Digg" even ended up on a sampler called "Sparkler" which was distributed via Metro One Records. I think a few radio stations played "Digg" here and there, and a few of our songs ended up on the soundtrack for an indie film "When Love Walks In" too. Anyway, I am pretty proud of that Cd and once in a while I still listen to it and say, "Dang…we put out a really awesome Cd, didn’t we?" Yes, we did.

One of the biggest highlights for me was mixing the CD with the amazing Gene Eugene. He died soon after this and I will forever be grateful for those days I spent next to Gene. He blessed me and I was blessed to know him.

*Read the PT review

3- My son David was born. He's such a blessing to us. David is one of the only people I know who actually has all five of the "Love Languages" --Physical touch, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts and Quality Time are all important to David. He's the most loving person I know, other than my wife, and I am so very blessed to be his Dad.

4- Trying to publish my poetry. My senior year in college I wrote a series of poems on grief and loss called "Wintermoon and Coffeestain". I had attempted to submit my poetry to various magazines and come up empty. For a while there I had a British publishing house interested in the collection but then it fell apart. Oh well. Maybe I'll self-publish my poems through Lulu.com someday? Hmm….

4 things on my to-do list for today:

My HOME To-Do List:
1- Make plans to celebrate my 19th Wedding Anniversary with Wendy this weekend.
2- Re-install the OS on my laptop in hopes of eradicating a nasty virus which will not die and has now caused my computer to slow to a crawl.
3- Help my sons clean up their book-case in their room and separate out all the Baby Books which need to go into storage or get donated to charity.
4- Take a shower.

My WORK To-Do List:
1- Finish the Services E-Newsletter for October
2- Finish the Prevalent E-vite copy with new input
3- Finish the Marketing Services website copy
4- Finish the Hosted DRM End-User flyer copy

4 random things I love about my wife:
1- She's the most loving person I know. When we were dating in college she and I visited a local Nursing Home and I was in awe at the way she stopped to look each person in the eye, spend time with them and give them a real hug. I was instantly in love with her and I still am today.

2- She has the ability to speak words of wisdom to me when I need to hear them most.

3- She talks me out of stupid ideas and helps keep me from becoming a raging radical out in left field.

4- She still loves me after spending 19 years with me and seeing how shallow and selfish and petty I am.

4 jobs that I have had
1- Domino Pizza Delivery Driver- Lasted one week, I think. I couldn't get the pizzas there in 30 minutes so I ended up paying for them out of my meager paycheck. Plus my car, an awesome '67 Camaro, sucked gasoline mucho fierce so all my money went to buy gas.

2- Door-to-door "Rainbow" Salesman- It was a water-based vacuum-cleaner (my Mom still uses hers and loves it) and the sales exeprience helped me later in my career, but it was basically a scam. The only other good thing out of this job was meeting Lee (Hammar) Davis, one of my oldest and dearest friends who ended up being one of my groomsmen when I married Wendy.

3- UPS - First I was unloading the trailer trucks into the distribution center and onto the belts. I remember sweating like a pig and begging God to help me live long enough to finish the first truck. When I saw the back of the trailer I was so relieved. At least until my manager came into the truck, lifted up the floorboards and showed me the 900 boxes hidden in the lower compartment. I wanted to die after that. Soon I was moved to the belts, loading up the brown trucks for delivery. Hated that job.

4- Youth Pastor - I remember telling God that it was like using a hammer to drive nails. I was the wrong tool for that specific job, but God blessed those kids (and me) anyway. Good experience for me. Never want to do that again though.

4 movies I have watched more than once:

1- Blade Runner- I think I have probably seen this movie close to 200 times. I own all 3 versions of the film, including the recent boxed set which included the workprint edition and the deleted scenes and the 8 hours of extras and documentaries. I have read the book it's based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick (one of my fave authors) three times. I have read the book on the making of the film "Future Noir" by Paul M. Sammon twice and I own the soundtrack. Yes, I am obsessed with this film.

2- Fight Club - Can't help how much I love this film. Read the book too. I might watch it again before the end of this year.

3- It's A Wonderful Life - I cry everytime I watch this .Everytime. Never fails to bless me.

4- Elf - I keep showing it to my friends to share it with them. "Did you hear THAT?!" Oh yeah.

5- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Such an amazing film. It makes me thankful for my life and my friends and especially my wife. A true work of inspired genius.

6- Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Say no more.

7- Brazil - Another work of prophetic and creative genuis. Watch this film and marvel at how our modern media and culture mirror the one in this film. Amazing stuff.

8- Children of Men - Powerful stuff. The "one scene" where the baby literally brings peace is poignant in the extreme. Wow.

9- Hotel Rwanda

10- Gattaca

11- The Incredibles.

4 places I have lived:
1- Eagle Pass, Tx.
2- Bloomington, Indiana
3- El Paso, Tx
4- Huntington Beach, Ca

4 places I have been: (most memorable places I’ve been)
I am not a traveller by any means so this is not such an impressive list:

1- Grand Canyon- Took a helicopter trip into the canyon itself and split the "tuning fork" formation. Awesome.
2- Juarez and Tijuana, Mexico - Go once. Never forget it.
3- Brownsville, Fl - The big revival back in the 90's. I got to hang with Lindell Cooley and his wife and team for two days. Great experience.
4- Homeless- My family has spent the night sleeping on the floor several times over the last 10 years, thanks to the charity of our friends. Thankfully it never lasted longer than a week each time, but it really puts your life into perspective when your family literally has no place to call "Home".

4 places I want to visit:
1- Israel
2- England
3- Hawaii
4- Africa

4 TV shows I watch:
1- Joan of Arcadia - Never had any desire to watch this when it was on the air but thanks to the magic of DVD (and the charity of my friend Liz) my family is falling in love with this awesome show. God is allowed to say things on this show that blow my mind- and it's the heart of God for His people. Amazing.

2- Battlestar Galactica - Again, you'd probably never guess it, but this show has shown things about the heart of God and the nature of religion versus genuine spirituality that blow me away. It's not kid-friendly by any means, but the power of showing a flawed character asking for forgiveness, or laying hands on a dying child and asking God to heal him (and God does), etc. is very, very awesome.

3- Lost- I know, you either love it or hate it but I so, so, LOVE it! When it finally ends I hope they leave us with more questions than answers. I really do not want them to wrap it all up into a neat bow.

4- House- The best character on TV now is the guy you love to hate. They've had some very powerful shows about God as well.

5- The Fringe - I love sci-fi and this show has some promise.

4 things you may not know about me:

1- I've seen Elvis in concert. At the age of 9 I saw him with my parents in San Antonio, Tx. He died less than a year later. I still have the ticket stub.

2- I've been shot at.

3- I was nearly shot dead at a minimum security prison (different occasion).

4- Some of my favorite bands are "Rage Against the Machine", "Duran, Duran" and "Johnny Cash". Shoot me.

*Heather Wright
*Keith Seckel
*Crissy Brooks


Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Over at TheOoze.com my article "Exploitation or Empowerment" is sparking a few interesting conversations.

I just posted a rather lengthy response to a friend who asked some questions and raised some objections there so I thought I'd re-post my comments here for further discussion.

Essentially, my friend Paul is questioning whether or not all are called to be leaders in the Church and raises some good points about the Church Fathers. He also questions the idea that there was no hierarchy in the early church.

Here's my response:

First, the Apostles were commanded by Jesus to call no one Father, not to be called Teachers themselves and to treat everyone as brothers. (See Mark 10: 42-45).

Jesus also modelled a leadership structure whereby the leader would wash feet, humble himself and serve the others as an equal and a brother or sister in Christ (see John 13) and he commanded those disciples (soon to be Apostles) to do the same.

The Apostles did not execute a leadership style or structure that you and I would recognize...and I mean that in a good way.

When we look at NT passages where the church is commanded to "submit to the authority of elders" (found in various places throughout the NT) it is in the context of submitting to them as they instruct in the Gospel. It is not a submission to them as authoritarian leaders but a submission to them as they lead us to follow Christ. Of course, if those leaders lead people away from Christ or the Scriptures one would not be required to submit to their authority.

I agree that there were Apostles, Elders, and Deacons in the early Church but they were not authoritarian leaders, they were average people who were filled with God's Holy Spirit and who sat alongside their brothers and sisters as equals on a daily basis. It was an authority based on maturity in Christ (at least at first).

Also, isn't it curious to you that those NT Epistles were not addressed to "The Pastor of the Church in Corinth" or "Ephesus", etc.? I find it fascinating that those letters are written to the believers themselves - directly to those same believers who were the Body of Christ - not to the leaders who would then work it into a weekly sermon.

I think when you move so quickly into the idea of Bishops and Church Hierarcy you assume that this was always the case and it most certainly was not. Until Cyprian and Ignatius began to influence the Church in this way these concepts were not accepted or practiced. Constantine provided the final piece to that shift away from the Priesthood of the Believer, but it was a process, not something that was present in the first 200 years of Christian life and practice.

Simply because we see words like "Leadership" and "Elder" and "Authority" it does not automatically follow that the practice of leadership and authority looked like what we're used to in Modern Christianity today. I would argue that it did not.

Peter and Paul and the other Apostles argued often that there was a new way of worshipping and experiencing God outside of a temple (building) and without the need for a secondary priest to mediate for us. Instead, the Gospel included the radical concept that you and I (as followers of Christ) are the new Priests of God. Shocking, yes, but clearly demonstrated throughout the writings of our Apostles in the NT.

The Gospel message also included another radical idea that had not existed previously - that the worship of God would not require a building/temple because you and I (as followers of Christ) are the new Temple where the Holy Spirit dwells. This was a radical teaching of inclusion for anyone and everyone to become a Talmidum or Disciple of Jesus and participate in a way never before imagined by the common folk of the day.

You suggest that "all are not leaders" and I would agree. But just because some lead and others are not leading this doesn't mean that not everyone participates. Clearly the idea behind 1 Cor 12 is that everyone in the Body of Christ has a purpose and a function and a very, very critical role to play in the operation of this Body. Name a part of your body that you would be ready to cut off and live without. Other than your appendix or your tonsils, maybe that extra kidney, none of us would want to live without our body parts--because they're all esssential to the health and function and well-being of the Body!

Did God plan to have all 28 spiritual gifts flow through one man? You've been a pastor and you know (and have seen) the crushing weight of trying to be the single person through whom the gifts of encouragement, prayer, teaching, administration, counseling, discernment, etc. must flow. The reason so many pastors burn out and give up is because this is not the way God envisioned it. His plan was to distribute everything the Body needed through each and every member. This means that participation is essential. It means you need everyone. It means if you don't obey Jesus and love one another then you're not the Church that He designed…and you can't be because all the spiritual gifts must operate in love. (Which is why everytime Paul mentions gifts he follows with an instruction on love. Everytime).

I mean, they sit and listen once or twice a week and go home until the next meeting. You ask me, "Is the level of participation higher in the house church?" - YES! In fact, if there was no participation we'd all sit and stare at each other in silence week to week. It wouldn't work. And beyond the participatory nature of our gatherings, we have "deputized" each and every member of the house church to "be the church" and that means loving their actual neighbors, making disciples, leading others to understand God's Word, take the Gospel to their workplace, etc.

HOW DO I ACCOUNT FOR HISTORICAL CHRISTIANS WHO WERE ADVOCATES OF ORGANIZED CHURCH?The short answer is that they were products of their environment and I understand this because for most of my spiritual journey I was in the same boat as they were.I'm not saying I'm better than them because of this. The truth is there are certain areas of faith where Luther and St. Francis were giants and other areas where they were very small and just plain wrong.

Where Luther was right about indulgences he was wrong about the Jews. Where Mother Teresa was right about the poor, she was wrong about praying to dead people. Where Calvin was right about the depravity of man's soul, he was wrong about man's inability to "want" to do good.

Perhaps I need to write another article more explicitly about the kind of leadership that we see in the NT and how it looks nothing like what we see in pulpits around the World today?

Wait for it...


Monday, October 06, 2008


The first House Church 101 class was actually pretty awesome. We only had one couple show up with their son (Drew, Stefani, & Jake) and Larry and Kelly from the Mission were there to help me answer questions too.

Drew and his wife are in the same boat as the rest of us, "cut from the same cloth" as Drew expressed it and we had a great time answering questions, getting to know them and encouraging them in their journey into house church.

Drew even came to observe house church yesterday morning and even joined us last night for our Mission Men's night where we had some very, very encouraging and stimulating conversations from 6pm to 9:30pm.

I've invited their family to come back again any time, and for as long as they want to come and join us. I had suggested they visit other local house churches such as The Well and maybe a few other house church groups just to get a flavor for what house church is and/or can be and they want to try that too.

This Sunday morning was also my first opportunity to sit at the back of the room and allow our house church to operate without my guidance. I actually stepped out of the room during the last worship song yesterday and sat in our TV room so that when the song ended no one would look at me and wait for me to lead us in communion or direct them towards share time, etc.

Everyone adjusted wonderfully and great conversations were started without my involvement. For me, the most wonderful part of the day was when one of our little ones spoke up and encouraged her Mom with a word of wisdom and encouragement that could only have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was seriously awesome.

As for me, I can honestly say that the experience this weekend of leading this first House Church 101 class, and the subsequent dialog with Drew and the Men of the Mission last night, have really helped me quite a lot in my thoughts regarding the development of our house church.

Some of these things are hard to put into words, but mainly I'm feeling permission to let go of the church and to really give it away to everyone else. I have no anxiety anymore about how big we are or how big we might get or who comes or who doesn't or even if we'll still all be together as The Mission a year from now.

I suppose one thing that really struck me over this weekend was the idea that The Mission really is God's project and if God wants to scatter us in six months to go and accomplish different things for the Kingdom, or gather with others around some other coffee table somewhere, that's really ok with me. I guess I've really let go of everything and have finally surrendered my vision and my dreams for this thing to God.

Honestly, I have to believe that if we did break apart in a few months, most of us (maybe not all) would simply not be content to return to the pew. So eventually I think all of us would find ourselves in someone's living room somewhere with someone again no matter what.

I am not building an empire and my success doesn't depend upon The Mission being a success in anyone's eyes but God's. If it is God's will for us to stay together and start a second group, then we will, and if it's God's will that we scatter and share what we've learned with others, then we will. It's not my job to hold anything together or to push anything apart. I only have to be faithful to what God has called me to do and allow God to do the rest.

So, I suppose I have successfully separated my self-worth and identify from The Mission and I have truly, finally, surrendered this church to its rightful owner (God).

I feel a sincere freedom in my spirit over this.

Initially I was concerned that these House Church 101 classes could be problematic for us since The Mission is already too large (27 people) and I didn't want these classes to turn into a way to funnel even more new families into the Mission.

Now I've changed my mind. I want to invite as many people as possible. I want to swing wide the doors and encourage the rest of our house church to bring their friends and invite their unsaved neighbors, etc. because if we explode into a house church of 47, or 57, that's ok with me. It might even help us to reach a true "critical mass" and multiply even more groups out of simple practicality and to make room for all the new friends who are discovering house church and learning to "be the Church" this way.

More later...


Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Biblical Perspective on the Bailout Plan

Found this today over at J.R. Miller's blog "More Than Cake" and it blessed me. Had to share it here with all of you too.

A Parable of the American Kingdom by J.R. Miller

Jesus, the undocumented worker, returned home to Mexico from living in America. His family said to him, "Jesus, why have you returned home from America?"

"It is difficult to understand" he said, "So let me tell you a story."

"The kingdom of America may be compared to a Government who wished to settle accounts with a Mortgage Lender.

When the Government had begun to settle accounts, one Mortgage Lender, which owed 700Billion dollars, was brought to account. But since the Mortgage Lender did not have the means to pay his bad debts, the Government simply printed up more money and gave it to the Mortgage Lender so he would not be ruined.

Later, that same Mortgage Lender, now bailed out from his 700 Billion in bad debts, went out and found a homeowner who owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Mortgage Lender seized the homeowner and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So the homeowner fell to the ground and began to plead with the Mortgage Lender, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' But the Mortgage Lender wanted his money and he took the homeowner's property and forced him into bankruptcy.

So when his fellow homeowners saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their Government all that had happened.

Then summoning the Mortgage Lender, the Government said to him, 'You wicked Mortgage Lender, I gave you 700 Billion to pay all your bad debt, should you not also have had mercy on the homeowners, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And the Mortgage Lender contributed many thousands of dollars into the coffers of the Government and contributed to the campaign funds of the many politicians and the Government was happy.

The homeowners were grieved, but still they elected the same leaders again and again..."


House Church 101 Class - This Saturday

This Saturday I'll be leading our very first "House Church 101" class for people interested in learning more about house church and how to start one.

Find out more about this FREE class

I've been advertising the class in three different ways:

1) Flyers at local Christian bookstores
2) Guerilla marketing by slipping bookmarks into copies of "Pagan Christianity" and "Re-imagining Church" and "Un-Christian" at local Barnes and Nobles/Borders.
3) Word of Mouth.

I suppose a fourth method to get the word out has been the internet itself and Google's search services. So far the people signed up for this Saturday's class seem to have found out about by searching for "House Churches in Orange County".



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Periscope Up

I've been too swamped to post here recently and I apologize for the radio silence.

Here's what's up with me these days:

*Just preached on Sunday at Soul Survivor Church about "The Gospel of the Kingdom". You can download it for free over at ITunes under their Soul Survivor Church podcast. (Just search by my name and you'll find it).

*Our house church this Thursday night will meet in our dear sister Mary Anne's room at the Royale Health Center as she struggles with brain cancer.

*Dinner this Friday with another set of house church leaders in Yorba Linda to see where this whole "OC House Church" network thang might be going.

*Preparing to teach the very first "House Church 101" class at Triangle Square this Saturday morning. Can't wait to meet the people God has brought to this and encourage them.

*This Sunday morning will by my first trial-by-fire at The Mission as I practice restraint and sit at the back of the room while others lead. Can't wait.

*Sunday night the men of the Mission get together to pray and encourage one another. We all need it.

*My article "Exploitation or Empowerment" is now up over at www.TheOoze.com. Enjoy!

More later...


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Missional House Church Network" Seminar - MP3's

You can download to all four sessions







Last Sunday I visited a House Church training conference in Lake Forest and had a chance to share some of what God has been teaching us lately. It was an excellent day and I was honored to make connections with others in Orange County who are being called into House Church. Pray for the good people of Vineyard Community Mission Network and their pastor Bill Faris, as they take their first steps towards becoming a house church network and wade a bit deeper into this movement.

In the evening I went to Huntington Beach to share God's heart for the poor with another house church group started by Ken Eastburn of The Well. They were challenged and have decided to spend the week in prayer about what God would call them to do about poverty in Orange County and next Sunday evening they will gather again to discuss their next steps. Pray for them as they try to listen to God's voice concerning the poor in their community.

Our first HOUSE CHURCH 101 class will be on Saturday, Oct. 4th at T-Square from 10am to 11:30am. Please pray that we can get the word out about this free class to those who are feeling God's call to "be the Church" in this way.

I've already had several lunch meetings and random encounters with people who are interested in house church so I do feel that God has His hands on this. I just want to be obedient to what He's calling me to do.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


"House Church 101"
Saturday, October 4th
10am to 11:30am
at Triangle Square in Costa Mesa, CA

- Registration Now Open

Join us at Triangle Square on Saturday, Oct. 4th for this opportunity to learn more about the House Church experience and how you can start your own house church, or join an existing one, here in Orange County, California.

For more info and to register for this FREE event, please visit

Pray For House Church Planters Around the Globe

Over the last several months I have received email from over half a dozen people who are feeling called, in one way or the other, to step out into the great unknown and start a house church.

Some are currently pastors of traditional churches, others are worship leaders who support their family through the use of their gifts in traditional church, others are humble people who just know they can't continue to identify themselves as "Church-goers" rather than as "Followers of Jesus" and who yearn to BE the Church as God has called them to be.

Please pray for these men, and their families, as they seek God's direction in this:

*Mark W. - Indianapolis
*Mark M. - Kentucky
*Jonathan - Santa Ana, CA
*Justin - Costa Mesa, CA
*Roger - Virginia
*Nolan - Philipines
*Charles - New Mexico

I've begun praying for these men on a daily basis and my hope is that I can encourage them as they move forward.

If you decide to pray for them today, please post a comment below and let them know you're praying for them too.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Painful Truth

Last Saturday evening I met with some of the leaders in our house church about how we should respond to the growth of our group to 27 people. After a series of questions it became clear that if my wife and I left the group it would die. No one would continue to meet this way or operate as a house church if we weren't there to hold it together. That was very hard for me to hear, but it's helped me to see where we need to change and adapt.

So, from now on I will not be facilitating our group. Instead each person will take a turn each week at leading our discussion, offering communion, directing our worship, etc. I will sit in the back of the room and observe and only contribute as needed.

This is something I honestly should have started to do after our first year together, but it needs to be done in order to train everyone on how to contribute more and take the reins from my hands and place them in the hands of our people.

Because of last week's post I felt I needed to correct some of my previous assumptions about how our house church operates.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Makes Me An Expert?

A few weeks ago I set up a little online survey to get feedback from my [Subversive Underground] subscribers. The responses have been great, so far. But there was one that really hit me harder than all the rest and I wanted to respond here since I don't have the email address or the name of the person who made the comment.

Here's the comment:
"What makes you the house church/church renewal/church reform/new wineskins guru of the day? Some of us have been trying to do this for 30 years, with little results or encouragement; Yet we aren't considered a voice worth listening to; certainly not gurus. why is that? -- a discouraged leader"

My first response is that I don't consider myself a guru or even necessarily a "voice worth listening to". My hope is to share some of what I'm learning with others and encourage people who feel the same way.

The discouragement in this person's comment is palpable. I wish I could reach out and hug this person, or bless them in some tangible way. Mostly because I know that he or she is not alone in this feeling. There are many, many people who don't experience the thrill of house church. Many friends of mine here in the OC and online have shared their stories of failed attempts to find others who want to fellowship this way. I know men who have struggled for years to plant a house church that will last longer than a few months or years without fizzling out.

Just today I sent an email to a brother in Christ who had questions about leading a house church and wondered about his own ability to make it work. Here's a little of what I shared with him:

I think the main thing to take away from the discussion is that it's not about you. It's about allowing the Holy Spirit to be in charge and taking your hands off the wheel.

Our house church is coming up on 3 years now and it is thriving and growing (almost too fast) and it has NOTHING TO DO WITH ME! Nothing. At. All.

I don't bring dynamic teaching every week (no one does). I am not the attraction here. People are coming to "be the Church" and this is a safe place for them to discover how to do that.

So, leadership is a loaded topic and I feel like it's more about just being who you are and allowing everyone else to be who God has made them to be...warts and all.

Being a good facilitator is my only contribution, and I still need more on-the-job training in that actually. Learning to listen, learning to allow questions to hang out there and dangle, learning to keep our dialog on track, and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit are the main things I do every week. It's not about being agressive or taking charge. It's actually more about being passive and letting God take charge (which is much more difficult and takes a lot more courage and strength than assuming power, believe me).

I'd encourage you to pray for God to build a church in your home that is exactly what He wants. Pray for God to do something so awesome in this church, in these people, that no man would dare take any credit for it. Then step back and watch God do exactly that. At least, that's what He did in my case.

So, if you're struggling to get your house church off the ground, or if you're feeling less than adequate for the task at hand let me tell you --You're not alone.

We're all weak and the sooner we admit that to one another the better. I'm just as screwed up as the next guy...that's why I need Jesus. That's why we all need Him.

This one goes out to all the wonderful children of God out there who long for a house church where everyone loves as Jesus commanded and has yet to taste the fullness of that.

Please don't give up. Please continue to walk out the calling that God has given you to "be the Church" where you are. Even if you do it alone, with your own family, sitting on the living room floor with a Bible open and a few out of tune, accapella hymns. Keep the faith, my friends.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

More Proof That Being A Christian Doesn't Make You A Follower Of Jesus

I had lunch yesterday with a good friend, Bob Sears. He presented me with a copy of his new book, "Gold, Silver and Precious Stones". Last night I sat down to read it and was arrested by the following paragraph:

"In 2008, Kenya shocked the world with its violent ethnic conflicts that produced a wave of house burnings and hundreds of thousands of refugees. Stories filled the news of machete-wielding men hacking their neighbors to death for belonging to a different tribe. How could such atrocities occur in a country where over 80% of the population claims to be Christian? Faustin Ntamushobora, who survived the Rwandan genocide and now works to reconcile tribal factions suggested this answer: “African’s are converting to Christianity, but they’re not being taught how to live it. These people are churchgoers, but they’re not disciples of Jesus Christ.” (from “The Biolan”, Spring ’08, p.20)."

Do we really need any more proof that making converts isn't good enough? We were commanded by our Lord to "Go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to do everything I have commanded".

Can we start making disciples now?


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My New Hero: W. Carl Ketcherside

Much thanks to my friend Lionel for showing me this link and quote from author W. Carl Ketcherside.

This quote is taken from Chapter 1 of his marvelous book, "The Royal Priesthood" published in 1956.

"Every child of God is a priest! Every man and woman who is a Christian has entered "the priesthood." The only high priest in God's system today is in heaven. That is the theme of this book. It is just that simple. If the Bible teaches that, this book is in harmony with the will of God; if the Bible authorizes a special priesthood composed of a clerical class, in this age, then this book is wrong in its presentation, and its author must stand condemned as one who opposes the plan of God.

"I have no intent or desire to defend modern religious institutions, nor to champion the societies which have been spawned in the fertile brains of fallible men. It is my firm conviction that the community of saints planted by the holy apostles in the first generation of the Christian era constituted the divine pattern for the entire dispensation. My humble efforts will be bent, not toward the refinement, amendment, or reformation of any existing sect, but toward restoration of the primitive "colony of heaven" as representing God's ideal to which we must conform if we would meet his approval.

"No careful student of the early congregation of believers can fail to be impressed with the simplicity of its worship and functioning. Imbued with a fervent zeal, motivated by a common purpose, possessed of a deep love for each other, "all the believers kept together" and "among all those who had embraced the faith there was but one heart and one soul" (Acts 2:44; 5:82). In such a company each felt under compulsion of spirit to do all he could to edify his fellows. None served for gain. Those who had personal property and real estate sold their possessions and distributed to all who had need; no one thought of threatening the needy with eternal destruction if they did not support a privileged class.

"In the original church of God there was no distinction between clergy and laity. God's clergy (portion or lot) consisted of God's laity (people). Every member of the "laity" was a member of "the clergy" and vice versa. Every person in the divine arrangement was a minister of God. One "entered the ministry" by coming into the Christ. The holy and unblemished church can never be restored until those who love the Lord recapture in the fullest sense the picture of a "priesthood of all believers" free from the taint of a special caste.

"The religious world in general has lost the pattern of the corporate worship of the original community of baptized believers. The early church gathered around a table; the modern church sits before a pulpit. The Lord placed the table in the church so it could remember its debt to him; the clergy placed the pulpit in the church to bring it in debt to them. In the early church they all spoke one by one; today all the speaking is done by one. Then the spirit was kindled; now it is quenched. Then they claimed to love each other and talked about Jesus; now they claim to love Jesus and talk about each other. In those days all exerted an effort to exhort; now all must be exhorted to exert an effort.

"The primitive disciples did not ask the world to come and get the gospel, they took it to them. They gathered to eat the Lord's Supper, then scattered to preach the Word. Wherever there was a Christian and a sinner, there was a gospel meeting. They announced the glad tidings to masters and mistresses, friends and neighbors. They did it simply but fervently. They told about Jesus, his death and resurrection. They testified of their faith in him. They preached him in chariots along the road, in prison cells, by river brinks, in private homes, in hulls and in synagogues. The whole earth was their auditorium, the thing at hand their pulpit.

"Much of the irreverence, formality and cold ritual of these days is the result of a loss of significance of a priesthood of all believers. The sense of individual relationship to God with its attendant responsibilities has disappeared in the modern sectarian strife for supremacy of party. To restore the primitive community of saints a great reformation of thought is essential. This book has been written to help the good and honest heart properly evaluate our present status in the light of God's revelation."
You can read the entire book for free

Friday, August 29, 2008

Welcome To The OC House Church Network

Another one of my crazy ideas has come to life. Behold, the new Orange County House Church Network resource page!


I threw together www.OCHouseChurch.com this week to serve as an online resource for people in Orange County, California who might be searching for a house church and/or curious about starting their own.

My plan is to host monthly "House Church 101" classes on a Saturday to answer questions and share what House Church is all about.

I hope to do this in co-operation with my fellow house church leaders here so that I'm not the only guy doing all the work and the training and coaching, etc.

We'll see how it goes.

I plan to host the first training in October. Details coming soon.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I'd like to start today's blog by pointing out that, in all my years blogging here I have never once taken the time to openly rebuke or correct another pastor, teacher or blogger. Today I make an exception because I can't allow this sort of teaching to go unchallenged.

My hope is to lovingly and soberly correct a misunderstanding and false teaching concerning forgiveness.

Earlier this week I read a post called "Messiah Complex" by blogger Darin Hufford.
The post in question is HERE

Essentially, Darin takes a difficult passage of Scripture and twists it to say something that is not supported by the rest of the New Testament, or the Apostles, or the practice of the Early Church.

The passage of scripture in question is John 20:21-23 where Jesus says
"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Darin believes that this passage in John 20 gives us, the followers of Christ, the power to forgive people their sins, even if they have not repented of their sins.

In an attempt to discover what Darin meant by this teaching, and to give him the benefit of the doubt, I started posting comments to his blog. You will notice that he has since deleted our entire conversation completely (there were at least 4 comments by me and at least as many by him, all deleted). You'll notice that he makes a comment addressed to "Keith" but this is the only hint that I ever made any comments at all. (Unless he deletes this post too).

So much for open dialog.

Because Darin has attempted to silence anyone who disagrees with him, and because he has more than a little leverage in the blogsphere regarding matters of theology, Christian thought and Church life, I find it necessary to call him out on this misunderstanding of Scripture.

Because he has deleted my comments on his blog and refused to allow another point of view to be heard or seen by his readers, I can only provide a response here on my own blog and reveal his attempt to cover up a fair and open dialog about this heretical doctrine.

Let me say off the bat, I do not hate Darin Hufford. I love him. He is my brother and I would love to have this conversation with him in private, or even on his blog, if we were open to such a dialog. Sadly, he is not. He is more interested in making sure people only hear one side of the argument and he is not interested in allowing anyone else to hear what other teachers have to say.

I've always said that the Truth is "Questionable". If Darin is teaching the truth he should not be afraid of questions. The truth is bullet-proof. It can certainly handle a few shots from me.

Darrin says in his article that, before he understood this controversial verse correctly he was of this opinion - "In other words, unless they come to Jesus, they cannot find forgiveness for their sins, so it's my job to get them to Christ."

However, now that's he's been enlightenend by John 20:21 he was discovered a remarkable concept: Forgiving people of their sins is now his job as a Christian. For example, when his unbelieving friend asked him if he thought God would ever forgive him of his sins, Darrin doesn't take the opportunity to say, "Yes, let's pray and ask Him to forgive you right now. I know He will. Would you like that?"

Darin says something very different to his friend who is inquiring about God's forgiveness for his sins:

"He asked me if I thought God would forgive him and I responded by saying "I forgive you for all your sins." I explained that the decision to forgive him was mine, and I decided YES."

Why didn't Darin lead his friend to Jesus so that Jesus could forgive his sins? In this example Darin seems determined to be the one who forgives the sins, even though Jesus was clearly a very viable option in this situation.

Did Jesus really teach us to go around forgiving people of their sins?
Well, yes and no. Jesus does instruct us to forgive others so that our sins will be forgiven.

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - JESUS (Matthew 6:14-15)

However, this verse is telling us that we will receive forgiveness for our sins if we forgive others when they sin against us. I've written an entire article about this over at the [Subversive Underground] blog. (See May, 2007 - "Forgivness According to Jesus")

Jesus does not teach us that we have the power to forgive the sins of people who need God's forgiveness.

In the passage from John 20:21, where Darin gets his doctrine from, the meaning of these words is difficult to understand. Whenever we have a passage in scripture that is difficult to understand we always balance it by looking at other verses of scripture on the same subject. We never, and I must stress the word "never", base any doctrine on the weight of just one single verse of scripture. Sadly, this is what my friend and brother Darin is doing here and out of this has spun a serious misunderstanding of the Atonement and the doctrine of Forgiveness.

I'm asking for verses in the New Testament where Paul or Peter or James or John instruct the early christians to forgive the sins of unbelievers.

Do they instruct us to forgive the sins of those who sin against us? Yes.
Do they instruct us to forgive one another? Absolutely.
Do they instruct us that we have the power to forgive the sins of everyone we meet? Clearly, no.

To determine the answer I am asking if
A) The Apostles taught/modelled/practiced this or
B) The early church practiced this.

I find no evidence that any early Christians (Apostles or otherwise) put this practice of forgiving people their sins into action.

Are we called to forgive people? Yes.
Is it important to forgive ourselves? Yes.
Are we called to forgive the sins of people who have not come to Christ or repented of their sin?
Clearly, no.

One of the most troubling comments made by Darin in his reply to my first comment (since deleted) was that "the Apostles didn’t teach on 90% of what Jesus taught".

This statement alone says volumes about what Darin thinks of Jesus and the Apostles and how much he understands (or misunderstands) the New Testament.

I responded by asking Darin to please show me just 5 things that Jesus taught that the Apostles didn't teach and/or practice in the early church. Darin's response was to list the Beatitudes of Jesus.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit...blessed are those who mourn…blessed are the meek…blessed are the pure in heart...blessed are peacemakers."

Darin doesn't believe that the Apostles continued to teach or to practice the principles found in the Beatitudes of Christ on the Sermon on the Mount. I disagree.
I think the Apostles DID teach on these 5 things. The Sermon on the Mount was about life in the Kingdom of God (which is the Gospel that Jesus preached).

The Apostles DID preach the elements of life in the Kingdom, and my now invisible comments said as much:

#1Blessed are the poor in spirit corresponds to: "Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" - James 2:5

#2 Blessed are those who mourn corresponds to:"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn" - Romans 12:15

#3 Blessed are the meek corresponds to: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" - James 4:6

#4 Blessed are the pure in heart corresponds to: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to...keep oneself from being polluted by the world" - James 1:27

#5 Blessed are the peace makers corresponds to: "as long as it is possible...live at peace with all men" Romans 12:8

With more time and space I could expand on other verses from the New Testament where the Apostles encouraged other Christians to live out the Sermon on the Mount. But that's another post.

My point to Darin was, we don't find any verses where the Apostles taught or encouraged other Christians to forgive the sins of their unbelieving friends, etc.

I think it's a fair question to ask: "If Jesus really taught us to forgive the sins of unbelievers then why don't we see the early church engaged in this awesome practice?"

Answer: Because Jesus clearly did not teach this to his disciples, nor did they teach it or practice it.

Blessings to my friend and brother, Darin Hufford. I pray that this misrepresentation of the words of Jesus doesn’t lead anyone to stumble in their faith.


Monday, August 18, 2008


Yesterday at The Mission we heard testimonials from two of our church family about God's amazing, miraculous healing power.

About two weeks ago Clara hurt her shoulder and the doctors told her she had torn her rotator cuff and would need surgery to correct the injury. As the week's progressed her arm became more and more useless. She had no use of the arm and it hung limp at her side.

After receiving prayer for her injury she woke up yesterday morning and, before she realized it, she was combing her hair...with both hands!

She discovered she could move her arm completely pain free in any direction. She was totally healed.

Our dear friend Nancy shared about how her Mom, who had been on a breathing tube with a "Do Not Resuscitate" order on file, had been read her Last Rites just a few days previously. But after the prayers of her family, and many in our house church, her Mom was taken off the tube and was so completely healed that even the Doctor's and Nurses called it a miracle. What's more, her Mom's feet, which had been closed up into painful stumps after years of working as a nurse and from being on her feet constantly, were also totally healed. Her toes were stretched out and relaxed, Nancy said. She can now walk without pain and she's going home totally healed.

After we heard these two amazing testimonials I really felt we needed to stop and pray and just praise God for His incredible healing power. We thanked God together for answering these prayers and for healing these two women so incredibly, and completely.

Afterwards I asked Clara and Nancy to lay hands on Mary Anne and pray for her to be healed as well. Mary Anne had a large brain tumor removed about 3 months ago. At that time the Doctor's said she had a network of tumors in her brain (melanoma) and that she would only survive another 3 months. Her left-side paralysis has returned and she is getting confused mentally by simple things like putting on her blouse or letting go of an object.

We all prayed for Mary Anne to be healed, but at this time she remains un-healed.

Still, we know from these two testimonials that God can heal her (and from many other testimonials as well), so we will continue to pray for Mary Anne to be totally and completely healed of her cancer and that these tumors will dry up and disappear.

If you'd like to pray for Mary Anne too, that would be really awesome.

God is good.