Friday, February 29, 2008

Here and Not Yet: The Kingdom Under The King's Command

Last night our house church group shared stories of times when God healed us or family members without our asking, and even bestowed spiritual gifts upon some of us out of clear blue sky.

The Kingdom seems to break into this world at the sole discretion of The King. There's nothing we can do to make it come or to coerce the King into action, and yet paradoxically we are commanded to pray, and Jesus said that our faith does play a part in our healing.

I do believe that following Jesus is about living in the tension between the "Here" and the "Not Yet" aspects of the Kingdom of God. It keeps us totally dependent upon God for everything.

"Without me you can do nothing" - Jesus


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thoughts on The Kingdom of God

This Sunday our house church, "The Mission", will have our very first "Subversive Seminary"- our first ever all-day teaching seminar on a single subject.

These will be co-lead by myself and three other leaders in our church. Our first topic will be "The Kingdom of God".

I'm very excited about this, mainly because the Kingdom of God is such a central concept to Christianity and understanding Jesus.

I've written at great length over the last several years about the Gospel of the Kingdom (the only Gospel Jesus ever preached) and how crucial it is to understand this idea.

Looking forward to the Non-Con on March 15th, David Ruis will be kicking things off with a great overview of the Gospel of the Kingdom. He's one of the best I've heard when it comes to providing a clear picture of what the Kingdom is and how we encounter the Kingdom in our everyday life.

With all of this resurgence lately regarding the Kingdom of God I will follow the current "Ministry To The Poor" series over at the [Subversive Underground] with a more detailed discussion of the Kingdom of God. In fact, I've already written the first installment of that possible series so after this Sunday's "Subversive Seminary" at "The Mission" I'm sure there will be more to write about for a second or third follow-up article on the subject.

If you're curious about what I'm talking about and want to better understand the Gospel of the Kingdom and the only Gospel Jesus ever preached, just search "Kingdom of God" here (see that search box at the top left navigation bar?) and also over at the link at the left for [Subversive Underground].

I specifically recommend reading "The Return Of The King" and "The Gospel Is Not About Going To Heaven When You Die", both found over at the [Subversive Underground] link at left.

My next two books, "The Power of Weakness" and "The Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know (But Probably Doesn't)" will both deal very specifically with the Gospel of the Kingdom. I can't wait to unleash those two later this year.

David Ruis and Todd Hunter have both agreed to contribute forwards to these two projects, which is even more reason to look for these books when they eventually release here (via the link at left also).

We only have a few weeks left until the NON-CON. I can't wait! Being there with David Ruis, Jackie Pullinger and my good friends Crissy Brooks, Jared Rowland, John Thomas, Cindy Rethmeier, Scott Laumann, Heather Wright, Marti Clark, Paul Martin and Spencer Burke will be amazing. I know God must have great plans for this day because I tried to cancel it a few months ago and God wouldn't let me.

Now I'm just praying that I can get all of the logistical things in place for the big day.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rest In Peace, My Brother - Larry Norman 4/8/47 - 2/24/08

Larry Norman, the father of what we have come to call "Contemporary Christian Music" passed away this week.

You can read a touching last post from his deathbed at his website

I wasn't a big fan of his music. I don't own any of his albums. I couldn't sing one of his lines if I tried.

But, this man was a pioneer who took music about Jesus to the mainstream. His first three albums were on what we would call "Secular" labels. He never liked the Christianized version of the record industry he inspired. For that I applaud him.

As I read his final words, dictated from his deathbed earlier this week, I couldn't help but become tearful. Perhaps because a dear friend of mine is sitting in CCU right now on a ventilator at a nearby hospital. Perhaps because I wonder if I'll have the privilege of dictacting my last words the day before I die. Or maybe because Larry is my brother in Christ and I love him, even though I've never met him.

When one part suffers, we all suffer together.

Pray for his family.

Rest in peace, Larry.


Monday, February 18, 2008


As of today the first ever Non-Con is offically SOLD OUT!

When I first had the inspiration for this one-day "non-conference", just over a year ago, I had no idea we'd really be able to find 100 people who would want to be part of something small, intentional, conversational, interactive and simple.

I am so excited about what God will do on March 15th.

Can't wait...


Thursday, February 14, 2008


ETERNAL LOVE by Keith Giles

We know from God's Word that there was a time when reality as we know it did not exist. In Eternity, a reality which is reality itself, God existed eternally prior to the Creation of all things.

At the point of Creation, which is something slightly easier for our minds to conceive, something came into being which never existed before- Time and Space.

If the angelic beings existed prior to the creation of Time and Space, they would have looked upon it as something wildly unique and utterly strange. To a being for whom Eternity is commonplace, the concept of a miniature reality with a beginning, middle and end, populated by organisms bound by this space, and limited by time, it would have been a wondrous and completely awe-inspiring work of genius. And it was.

For us, mortals bound by the limitations of space and time, and largely unable to conceive of a reality beyond this one that has eternally existed, it is the idea of Eternity that seems strange and foreign and utterly confusing in many ways.

"How could God have always existed?" one of our children asked out loud recently in house church. None of us had an answer for that, but we all could share the wonder expressed by the question.

As a young boy, about nine years old, I can remember lying on my bed and pondering just this question. I surmised that it was impossible for God to have always existed and therefore someone had to have created God. But who? I decided to call that person "King" and in my imagination I placed him as the creator of "God". This satisfied my imagination for about thirty seconds because I quickly asked myself, "Then who created King?" The conundrum was endless, I realized and so I quickly reverted back to the idea that, yes, God was eternally existant all along because there must be some being who created everything and yet who, himself, did not need to be created.

Just a few weeks ago I was thinking about how God can never have a new idea. It hit me because I had read a statement in a book I was reading about how God had supposedly "discovered" something new. I immediately dismissed this statement as false since it is impossible for God to have a new thought that He hasn't already had from Eternity. God doesn't learn because He already knows all things. This is why we say that God is Omniscient. He knows the end from the beginning.

As I thought about this inability for God to have a new thought I realized that this meant that the idea of me, and of you, and of everyone who had or will ever live on this Earth, was also Eternal. This concept riveted me for several minutes.

Could it really be possible that, in the numberless eons previous to the creation of the entire known Universe of space and time that I was a completely, fully realized idea in God's amazing mind?

This means that, not only will I spend Eternity with God in the flesh after my life here is over, but that in some ways I have always been in the heart and mind and imagination of God...even before I was born on this Earth some forty odd years ago.

You were also in God's imagination for Eternity. He knew you, even before he formed you in the womb. You are his beloved and he gladly created everything that we know and experience, even knowing that it would cost him great suffering and unimaginable pain on the cross in order to make a way to be with you forever.

You are so loved!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008



This news story (linked and partially quoted below) was something I couldn't help but comment on.

No matter who you intend to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election, please do not make your decision based on whether or not the candidate is the proper race. To do so is to turn back the clock and revisit the most shameful elements of our history as a nation of racists, bigots and morons.

Rendell: Race Factor Could Hurt Obama

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Ed Rendell, one of Hillary Rodham Clinton's most visible supporters, said some white Pennsylvanians are likely to vote against her rival Barack Obama because he is black.

"You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate," Rendell told the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in remarks that appeared in Tuesday's paper.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of Contemporary Christianity

This short booklet, written by pastor and theologian Ray Mayhew, was largely instrumental in leading my wife and I start a house church two years ago which would give away 100% of the offering and tithe to the poor in our community.

The online link to this article has disappeared for some reason, and there has been a resurgence in this conversation about the money people give to the Church and the proper use of this money, both here and over at so I'm offering this PDF article free to anyone who wants it.

For your free PDF of this inspiring and thought-provoking article, please email me at "elysiansky" (at) hotmail (dot com) with the subject "Emblezzlement" and I will email you a copy of this, free of charge.

If you do read this article, please post your reactions or comments here, or reply back to me via email and let me know what your thoughts are. I'd love to know.


Friday, February 08, 2008


So busy at work these days, but my mind is constantly plotting and pondering.

Here's what's on my mind and most likely to formulate into an article down the line:

*Preaching: It's not that I don't believe in it, it's just that I have really very little faith in the ability of preaching to motivate people to change their life. Most people sit and listen to a sermon and go home the same as before and repeat it over and over again, week after week. Yet, I often speak or preach at other churches and events, so it's not that I think it's completly worthless. I just wish there was a better way to teach people and to inspire them to move forward in their walk with Christ. At our house church I never preach and yet our people are growing and learning and stepping out of their comfort zones. More on this later...

*Constantinian Church: Once again I am faced with my misgivings concerning traditional church and the way this model inhibits real community, vulnerability and transformation. Still struggling with how to respond to this.

*Heretical Televangelists: Why is it that this guy can get on television and twist the words of Jesus into something he absolutely didn't say or teach, and yet still be the most popular and beloved "Christian" pastor in America? What am I supposed to do about that? Is the best response to keep silent and pray for him privately, or to speak out and sound the alarm that this person is mis-representing the words of Jesus and turning the Gospel into something unrecognizable as being "Christian"? Still working this one out...

*The tithe and the offering belongs to the poor, the outcast and the marginalized. My personal faith has been challenged due to this conviction and our house church was founded on the desire to give 100% of the offering away to the poor in our community. How do I speak out about this without alienating or "attacking" those in the traditional church? How do I share my deepest convictions without causing division in the Body? Not sure about this one either...

More later, I promise.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


File this under: Too much good stuff to share in one day and no time to write a response to any of it.

Here's what I've found interesting online or in my inbox today that I would like to share with my faithful readers...both of you...and you too Mom.

"Christian hackers attack MySpace page"
What wouldn't Jesus do?
By Iain Thompson

Radical Christian hackers have been waging an online war against atheism.
The hackers repeatedly attacked MySpace's Atheist and Agnostics Group page, deleting groups and members and renaming the site 'Jesus is Love'.

MySpace shut down the group last month despite having promised to keep it up after earlier hack attacks.

The site was put back up in February, but some members are still being barred and some discussions are lost. MySpace has yet to comment on the issue.

MySpace was acquired last year by News International, which is owned by born again Christian Rupert Murdoch.

WHAT DO YOU EAT IN ONE WEEK? (And How Much Do You Spend?)

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11



My friend Dan Ward had a great idea about how to spend his upcoming tax refund check from George W. Bush- GIVE IT AWAY TO HELP THE POOR!

Dan says: "Maybe this makes me a communist, but I'm not sure economic stimulation is all it's cracked up to be (I think economies work best when they're left alone, and allowed to self-correct). Or maybe that makes me a free market capitalist? In any case, what's more economically stimulating than helping those at the bottom of the spectrum? More to the point, I think serving the poor, hungry and needy is more important than boosting middle class economic fortunes. I hope others will join in."



Between 1990 and 2002 more than 174 million people escaped poverty in China, about 1.2 million per month.[1] With an estimated $23 billion in Chinese exports in 2005 (out of a total of $713 billion in manufacturing exports),[2] Wal-Mart might well be single-handedly responsible for bringing about 38,000 people out of poverty in China each month, about 460,000 per year.

There are estimates that 70 percent of Wal-Mart's products are made in China.[3] One writer vividly suggests that "One way to think of Wal-Mart is as a vast pipeline that gives non-U.S. companies direct access to the American market." [4] Even without considering the $263 billion in consumer savings that Wal-Mart provides for low-income Americans, or the millions lifted out of poverty by Wal-Mart in other developing nations, it is unlikely that there is any single organization on the planet that alleviates poverty so effectively for so many people.[5] Moreover, insofar as China's rapid manufacturing growth has been associated with a decline in its status as a global arms dealer, Wal-Mart has also done more than its share in contributing to global peace.[6]

How can this be, given the vast and growing literature documenting Wal-Mart's faults?



"Finally, and most important—we can’t predict the future, but we can know the present. In the time we have been talking, 2,000 people have died in the third world. A child is orphaned by AIDS every 7 seconds. Fifty people die of waterborne disease every minute. This does not have to happen. We allow it.

What is wrong with us that we ignore this human misery and focus on events a hundred years from now? What must we do to awaken this phenomenally rich, spoiled and self-centered society to the issues of the wider world? The global crisis is not 100 years from now—it is right now. We should be addressing it. But we are not. Instead, we cling to the reactionary and antihuman doctrines of outdated environmentalism and turn our backs to the cries of the dying and the starving and the diseased of our shared world.

And if we are going to remain too self-involved to care about the third world, can we at least care about our own? We live in a country where 40% of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Where schoolchildren pass through metal detectors on the way to class. Where one child in four says they have seen a murdered person. Where millions of our fellow citizens have no health care, no decent education, no prospects for the future. If we really have trillions of dollars to spend, let us spend it on our fellow human beings. And let us spend it now. And not on our impossible fantasies of what may happen one hundred years from now.

Thank you very much.
-Micheal Crichton


Tuesday, February 05, 2008


There's a great book called "Love Languages" by Gary Chapman, PHD which I highly recommend for anyone in a committed, romantic relationship or marriage.

In the book, Dr. Chapman identifies five known "Love Languages" that each of us respond to and "speak". The five languages are:

1) Words of affirmation
2) Quality time
3) Gifts
4) Acts of service
5) Physical touch.

Each of us can probably look over this list and identify at least one, maybe two areas where we feel most loved when on the receiving end of these languages.

For me it is Words of Affirmation and Gifts.

The problem is that if your primary love language is "Gifts" the chances are great that this is how you will express love to someone. However, if that person's love language is "Physical touch" or "Acts of Service" you'll be wasting your time.

This causes a lot of unnecessary frustration in marriages especially where the man can knock himself out with acts of service to his wife (doing the dishes, dusting the living room, keeping the yard clean, etc.) and yet in her mind he doesn't love her because he doesn't say "You're so beautiful" or "You make me happy".

Understanding your own love language is very important, and making sure that you discover your spouses love language is even more important. There's nothing worse than going through life thinking you've expresed your love for someone, only to discover that they aren't getting the message because you're not saying it in a way that they can understand.

Did you know that God has a love language too? He does. The scriptures are full of direct quotes from God where He specifically tells us what it means to love Him.

Do you want to know what God's love language is? Do you want to make sure that you're expressing your love to God in the best way possible; in the exact way that He has revealed to us?

Some of us think that singing songs to God for hours and hours will express our love for Him. Certainly it's not a bad thing to do that, but God is pretty clear that all that singing isn't really what He's looking for.

"Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps." -Amos 5:23

In this verse, God makes it clear that singing, by itself isn't enough. He goes on to call for His people to show compassion to the poor around them and to work for justice to rescue the oppressed in their community.

"But let justice roll on like a river; righteousness like a never-failing stream" - Amos 5:24

Jesus makes it clear that, if we love Him, we will obey His teachings.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...he who does not love me will not obey my teaching." – JESUS (John 14:23-24)

Jesus also made it clear that when we show love to the poor, the outcast, the weak, the broken, the forgotten, the lonely of this world, we are expressing our love for Him at the same time.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25:40

God has revealed to us that the best way to show Him that we love Him is to love others.

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-40)

Jesus makes it clear that loving God and loving our neighbor are connected. Notice how he says, "And the second is like it". This means that if you do one (Love God) you will naturally do the other (Love your neighbor)...and if you love your neighbor you are pleasing God by obeying Him and putting into practice the very thing that He says makes it known that you really love Him.

"If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother."
- 1 John 4:20-21

However, if Jesus boils down the Ten Commandments into just two commands, we are still faced with the reality that if we are powerless to keep the Ten, we are just as powerless to keep the Two.

Keeping the Law is impossible for me, as someone who was born with a sinful nature (read the book of Romans for Paul's amazing thesis about this). This means that keeping the Law is something I can only hope to accomplish if I am transformed by God into a "new creature".

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - (2 Cor 5:17)

The only hope we have to keep the Law is to allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from within into the sort of people who are capable of keeping the Law. The only hope we have to ever become like Jesus is to die, like He did, upon a cross which declares that we surrender our lives in order to receive a new life that is "others-focused" and marked by sacrificial love.

Jesus tells us that the only way for a tree to produce good fruit is to be that kind of tree. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.(Matthew 7:17-18) For us, as sinful creatures trying to love as Jesus loves we soon discover that it's as impossible as making our Pecan tree produce Grapefruit. It just won't work.

Paul makes it clear (in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13) that Love is a spiritual gift from God. Unless God gives us the supernatural gift of Love, we cannot try hard enough on our own to produce it.

So, let us learn to practice the language of love that God has revealed to us as being Divine. To do this, we must daily surrender our lives to God and lean upon Him for strength, for hope, and especially, for love.

"Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27)


Monday, February 04, 2008


Even though this conference in still more than a month away, we've only got 21 seats left as of today (2/04/08) at 2:22pm.

I'm very excited about this conference and can't wait to see what God has in store for all of us.

We'll be joined by Jackie Pullinger, David Ruis along with Cindy Reithmeier and John Thomas leading worship. I'll be leading one of the three main dialog sessions, and our workshop leaders include Spencer Burke, Paul Martin, Crissy Brooks, Scott Laumann and Marti Clark.

This will be an exciting day to explore God's heart for others, learning to "be" the Church, living missionally and discovering the Kingdom of God together.

If you haven't registered you need to hurry up before all 100 seats are taken.

More info and online registration here:

If you're curious...
WA 2
CA 65
CT 3
TX 4
AZ 1
OK 1
NY 1

GUYS- 36 /GALS- 43

Even if you can't attend, please pray for this special day together in March.

I'll provide a complete de-brief here and over at the Non-Con site the week after it's over. MP3's and Podcasts might be available of most sessions, if everything goes as planned. I'll have to see about hosting those and making them available to everyone.

More later...

Friday, February 01, 2008

If You've Ever Wondered What "Injustice" Is....

This is injustice:

Poor Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds 3 ounces he weighed at birth.



When I read something like this I wonder why our nation does nothing to assist these people trapped in unbelievable, horrific poverty?

If we will send troops to Iraq to rescue people from a genocidal dictator's rule, why wouldn't we send food and resources to help women and children who are literally eating dirt to survive?

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

I cannot understand how we can have a President who, by his own admission, follows Christ, and yet our Nation turns a blind eye to the suffering in Uganda, Darfur, Kenya, Haiti, and Rwanda.

Those nations are undergoing massive genocide, horrific poverty and their people are committing unspeakable atrocities. Still, in most cases our government could more successfully stop the violence, end the poverty and bring relief to the suffering in these nations than we could ever hope to duplicate in the Middle East.

"All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." - Galatians 2:10

Perhaps the reason why we don't send troops to these nations or exert great political pressure on these corrupt Governments is because they are not oil-rich nations whose stability directly impacts our own fragile economy?

In the end, our interests are selfish. We don't really care about those people in Iraq who are suffering, we care about Americans who need gas to fill their Lexus SUV tomorrow morning.

Those people who are living in Hell on Earth over in the Sudan, or Haiti, or Uganda? Our Government can only respond, "Let them eat dirt."

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 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? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth."
-1 John 3:16-19

This underscores why I am convinced that no real, lasting change will come to our Nation, or to the poor among us, or to the suffering abroad in other Nations, by political means. Justice is something we, the people of God, are called to bring. The Church, the people of God, have the power to move on behalf of the suffering in this world...down the street in the projects, and across the sea in the shanty towns.

Today the American Church has too closely alligned herself with political platforms and conservative candidates. We have lost our ability to act independently, with true compassion for others. We need to awaken from our slumber and move with compassion to ease the suffering and bring the Kingdom of God to those who are in need.

"He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To love mercy, to do justice and to walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

We are called, as followers of Jesus, to act on behalf of those who are suffering injustice. Yes, we must pray, but we also must tell others about this suffering. We must ask our pastors to spread the word from the pulpit. We must find a way to send help to those who are so poor they are literally eating the dirt from the ground to live one more day.

"Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were proud and did detestable things before me. Therefore, I did away with them as you have seen."
-Ezekiel 16:49

Whatever you do, please don't look away. Please don't do nothing.

Can anyone find a Christian charity that is in Haiti now offering relief to these people? How about a secular charity? How about three people with a single engine Cessna and a box of dried rice?