Saturday, May 30, 2009

What If Jesus Could Be You For 24 Hours?

Maybe I’ve been reading too many books by Dallas Willard lately, I’m not sure. But, the other night I had a very strange dream that Jesus and I made a date to allow him to live my life for one day.

Dallas Willard always expresses discipleship to Jesus as “Living your life as he would live it if he were you.” So, maybe I was meditating on this too much the night before. Whatever it was, here’s what happened in my dream.

After getting dressed in my clothes, Jesus adjusted my best tie in the bathroom mirror and picked up my briefcase.

“I’ll be home in time for dinner,” he said. “Enjoy your day off.”

“Sure,” I said.

Jesus jingled my car keys in his hand as he strolled down the sidewalk and got into my car.

Does he know how to drive a stick? I wondered. But, he started the car and drove it out of the driveway with no problem.

As I stood there in my pajamas looking at the car disappear into the distance, I wondered what he’d do at my work in my place. What sorts of trouble might I be in tomorrow?

When Jesus got home it was late. My car wasn’t in the driveway. “I took the bus home,” he said.

As he sat down to tell me about his day as me I notice that my wristwatch was missing from his arm. I was afraid to ask him what had happened to it.

First Jesus explained about why he hadn’t brought my car back. “There was this homeless woman at the stoplight near your work,” he said. “She has two small children and her husband left her two years ago.”

I finally got the nerve to ask him what happened to my car and he responded matter of factly, “You didn’t give me any money, so I gave her your car. You should have seen the look of joy in her eyes.”

I remembered avoiding eye-contact with that woman the last few weeks. I wasn’t even interested in rolling down my window to drop a few dollars into the bucket she was holding. Now she was out driving around in my car. What would I tell my insurance agent?

Then Jesus went on to explain how, once he got to my cubicle at work, he began to hammer out those monotonous spreadsheets that were due on Friday instead of checking email and surfing the web for the first 35 minutes of the day. “I got done about ten minutes before the coffee break,” he beamed.

At break time, instead of slipping outside to eat a Snickers or smoke a cigarette, Jesus walked down the row to visit Charlie, the quiet guy at work that nobody ever talks to. At first I wasn’t sure who Charlie was, but as he began to describe the guy I start to remember him. He was a weird guy I’d never bothered to talk with before.

“I told him not to be discouraged. He’s been considering a divorce, but I reminded him of those early days when he and his wife first fell in love. I think he might be willing to try and love her more, in spite of the way she treats him sometimes. We prayed together before I left,” he said.

The rest of the day, Jesus tells me, he flew through my workload, returned all my old email messages, and got twice as much accomplished as I ever had.

“I really wanted to do a good job,” he explained, “So your boss would know how thankful you are to have a job. I think he was beginning to doubt how dependable and hard-working you were. Character is such as lost art these days,” he said. I nodded along as he spoke and tried to sit up straight in my chair.

“On the bus ride home,” Jesus said, “I met an old woman whose Grandson had just been diagnosed with HIV. At first she went on about his filthy lifestyle and how he got what he deserved.”

Jesus stopped suddenly and I thought he was about to cry.

I asked him, “What’s wrong?”

“It’s a terrible thing,” he said.

“What is?”

He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, “To get what you deserve.”

After drying his eyes, Jesus continued with his story. “I reminded her of those early days when her Grandson was a small boy, and then I asked her to share her fondest memories of him as a toddler.”

“He’s going to die soon,” Jesus said. “I wanted her to give him the grace he needs before it’s too late.”

After a few moments Jesus composed himself and stood to go. I offered him some dinner but he shook his head and said, “No thanks,” he said. “I’m fasting.”

Before he left, Jesus looked into my eyes with a smile. “You’ve had quite a day with me in your shoes,” he said. “We should do this again sometime.”

Then Jesus handed me a small box. “I made this gift for you,” he said.

When he left, I opened it. It was a small bracelet that said, “What Will You Do?”

Then I woke up.

by Keith Giles
*Taken from the book, "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)". Available as a FREE, PDF download at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

RE-POST: Destroy The (Christian) Subculture!

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

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

A lot of my passion for this is connected to my desire to see this world changed from within. My blog name, "Subversive", is a metaphor for the coming of the Kingdom of God here and now. The Christian Subculture hinders the breaking in of the Kingdom. It inhibits the Gospel message. It paralyzes the followers of Christ by isolating them from the people they are supposed to love and interact with on a deeply intimate level.

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

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

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

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

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

I'm not exaxtly sure how this all actually works out to in the real world, but let me be clear; I am NOT advocating the wanton destruction of Christian bookstores; I am NOT organizing petitions to shut down Christian Television (although I'd probably sign a petition if someone sent me one); I'm not calling for people to light torches or assemble in protest...but maybe it would be good idea if we just simply tried to escape the pseudo-reality of Christian Subculture? Maybe we could just start living in the real world, as followers of Jesus, without seeing those imaginary boundary lines between "Us" and "Them"? Maybe we could talk to people and befriend them, and love them, regardless of whether or not they were Christians? Maybe we could stop seeking comfort and shelter within the invisible walls of our own safety zones and start realizing that we live in this world, the real world...the ONLY world, and begin living as Salt and Light to those around us?

Jesus prayed for us, those who would follow after Him, in this way:
"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."(John 17:15)

See, it was never God's intention to take us out of the world we live in. Why have we decided that it's ok to take ourselves out of the world?

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Article originally appeared on the Subversive Underground E-Newsletter-August 13, 2007]


A local pastor and his wife claim a San Diego County official threatened escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible Studies in their home.


So, what would I do if it suddenly became illegal to continue hosting house church gatherings in my home?

What if it became illegal to continue passing out free groceries to the poor or the homeless?

Would I continue to obey Jesus and risk being arrested, or thrown into prison, or fined thousands of dollars by the county?

Maybe I'll find out sooner rather than later...?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Downsizing Jesus

Strangely enough, following Jesus will get you in trouble with those same people who claim to be Christians.

Jesus says, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt 5:44)

Christians say "Torture is ok and Jesus would approve of it."

Jesus says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25)

Christians say, "God wants you to be rich and wealth is a sign of God's favor."

If someone wanted to actually put the words of Jesus into practice (as Jesus fully expected his followers to do), that person would quickly become an outcast in today's Christian community.

For example: Jesus commanded us to love one another. He commanded us to pray for those who persecute us. The New Testament tells us to submit to "every authority instituted among men" (1 Peter 2:13-14). But try posting "I love Obama" on your Facebook page as a Christian and just wait for the firestorm to come down on your head.

"What?! How can you love that baby-killing loser?"

Nevermind the fact that Christians are called to love everyone --even baby-killing pseudo-muslim commander's in chief.

Nevermind that the New Testament calls us to submit to our rulers and pray for those who persecute us.

At some point, every Christian, (myself included) takes a detour off the narrow path and settles for less than Jesus and His Gospel.

"Turn the other cheek? I guess so, but that doesn't work for nation-building."

"Love my enemies? But what about the man who raped my sister?"

"Wash the feet of my employees and serve the one's who call me the boss? You've gotta be kidding, right?"

"Give to anyone who asks of me? But that guy still hasn't returned my lawnmower."

"If anyone wants to sue me I'm supposed to give them more than they ask for? Are you kidding me?"

How far are we willing to follow Jesus?

How much are willing to trust that Jesus is right and that His teachings are true?

At what point will we stop in our tracks and say, "Jesus, I love you but I cannot take your teachings that far"?

When I look at the early church I am amazed at how they remained committed to Jesus and to His teachings of servant hood, love for others, radical compassion for the poor and non-violence.

It's amazing to me that for over 300 years they continued to hold fast to the example of Jesus who forgave his executioners and prayed for his torturers and went like a lamb to the slaughter.

Even when it appeared that it wasn't working, they never gave up on Jesus or His teachings. Even as their property was confiscated they held on tight to the teachings of Jesus. Even when they were thrown to the flames or put to death in the lion's den, they never shrank back from the values of the Kingdom or the Gospel of Christ.

At least, that is, until it appeared that they had won the victory. Once Constantine declared himself to be a Christian and offered them a chance to trade their suffering for leisure and their outcast status for popularity, they blinked. They settled for the best the Empire could give them and they let go of the radical doctrine of Jesus.

Today we who call ourselves "Christians" are still unable to let go of our status. We're still unwilling to lay down our considerable resources to embrace the simple teaching of Jesus.

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."- 1 John 2:6

The Christians in Acts shared all things.
The Christians in Acts sold their possessions and gave it to the poor.
The Christians in Acts took their land and their property and liquidated them so that others could be fed and clothed.
Their hope was in Jesus alone. Their trust was in the truth of His teachings.

We will not let go of our tax exemption status.
We will not sell our property.
We will not give our offering to the poor.
We will not share our blessings freely with other believers.
We will not lay aside our political gains.
Our hope is in ourselves. Our trust is in American Democracy and the power of our vote.

We have become the polar opposite of the Church in Acts. We have become a church that seeks material gain for itself rather than selling it to share with the poor, the outcast, the outsiders.

Even though following Jesus is a lost art. Even though putting his words into practice may get you into trouble. Even though others may criticize you and persecute you for attempting such a thing, I encourage you to follow Jesus today, and every day.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
- Jesus, Matthew 7:21-27

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Another Law?

President Obama just announced his nomination for a new Supreme Court Justice. Sonia Sotomayor, if confirmed, would be our nation's first hispanic female to sit on the highest court in the land.

Already the news outlets are buzzing and the political jabber has begun. "Will she be more loyal to the Pope or to the Constitution?" "Will she swing the Court to the left or remain centrist?"

Blah, blah, blah.

There are already hundreds of thousands of laws on our books today. Every year we implement thousands more at the Federal, State and Local level. Our tax laws alone could choke an elephant, and new laws are constantly being written and amended every year.

I have to ask, "Do all these laws make us safer?" Better yet, do all these laws make us a better nation? Do they make us a better people? Do they improve our lives? Do they bring us peace? Do they provide us with any real joy?

If there is no substantial improvement to our actual lives with the writing and passing of all these new and endless laws, then why do we as followers of Christ get so worked up about the law?

"But Keith, the Supreme Court has the power to rule on issues like abortion and gay marriage! As a Christian it's our duty to fight for these issues."

I have a few responses to this: First, while I agree that abortion ends a life I can honestly say that, since 1973 (the year of the Roe vs Wade decision) we have had no significant judicial or congressional legislation enacted to overturn this landmark case. Even with our great Republican presidents at the helm such as Reagan, Bush Sr., and George W. Bush --most of them serving two terms -- we have had no change.

Why do we still believe that if we continue voting and lobbying and endorsing and fighting that we will change this law?

Better yet, even if we somehow managed to change this law does anyone really believe that we will have changed anyone's heart in this matter? And if we do not change their hearts then have we really changed anything at all?

Nothing underscores the failure of the American Church to overcome evil with good by commitment to the teachings of Jesus than this: We have abandoned social change by way of the Gospel and embraced social change by way of the courts, and politics, and law.

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 American Judicial system is already clogged with laws. The judges and the lawyers make a very good living in the attempt to make sense of these laws and mete out justice that conforms to these ever-shifting codes. But what does that do for us? How are we given any more hope because of this?

In fact, our system of law is no different from the system of law practiced by the Pharisees and the Sadducees of Jesus' day. Did Jesus ever attempt to change a law or influence a Jewish council? Did any of his disciples ever put any hope or faith in that endless system of convoluted laws?

All that Jesus ever did in regards to this system of law was to condemn it as a burden and a yoke that no man could stand beneath...not even the Judges and Lawyers themselves.

Instead, Jesus pointed everyone to a better way. He announced the inauguration of God's rule and reign. He told us to put our hope in the Kingdom of God, not in the rules and laws of men.

Let the lawmakers make their laws. Let the politicians play their games. Our hope is not in any man-made system. Our hope is in the King of Kings. Our hope is in Christ alone. He is the only hope for our planet. He is the only hope for our society. The teachings of Jesus and the values of the Kingdom are what we believe in. These things never change. They are the same yesterday, today and forever.

So, please don't get caught up in the political firestorm that rages around us. Please, as followers of Jesus, do not involve yourself in those partisan arguments and do not place your hope in the writing of another man-made law.

This world is not our home. We are just passing through. Live such excellent lives among the unbelievers here that they may see your good deeds, your tranformed lives, your new heart, and hunger and thirst for the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

Good news- The King is coming soon. Sooner than you expect Him. Let us begin to live now, today, under the rule and reign of our one true King, so that when He comes He may find us already living as citizens of His Kingdom.

Monday, May 25, 2009


By Keith Giles
From the book, "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"

A friend recently brought an article in the September 2002 issue of GQ magazine to my attention. (posted HERE). The author, Walter Kirn, an unbeliever himself, wrote a blistering yet painfully honest article called “What Would Jesus Do?” that explored the little Christian ghetto that many of us live in. His morbid curiosity compelled him to explore this world that was almost exactly like the one he lived in, but without any substance. He described how he discovered product after product that essentially cloned the mainstream culture and leached it of sinfulness, and, as a byproduct, all relevance and meaning.

He noted, "What makes the stuff so half-assed, so thin, so weak and cumulatively so demoralizing … has nothing to do with faith. The problem is lack of faith. [The Christian subculture] is a bad Xerox of the mainstream, not a truly distinctive or separate achievement. Without the courage to lead, it numbly follows, picking up the major media’s scraps and gluing them back together with a cross on top."

What would happen if, instead of trying to create our own sanitized version of the world, we simply set ourselves apart from it? I can't help thinking that the most radical thing that a modern Christian could ever do is simply to act out the things that Jesus told us to do—things like loving our enemies, giving freely to anyone who asks us, forgiving everyone no matter what and being gracious with everyone around us would have a much more powerful impact on the culture than Christian breath mints ever could.

Isn't it more important to be set apart from the culture and to be known by how we are "unlike" the world? I feel like its time for Christianity Version 0.0 to be launched. It's time to make a difference by being different.

Ever wonder why Christianity isn’t taken very seriously in today's society? Why "Christian" has become synonymous with "cheesy"? Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims seem to command much more respect from the average person than do Christians. Maybe it's because Buddhists and Hindus don't create their own little versions of the world we live in for their own benefit and consumption.

Our attempts to copy the culture, albeit in a sanitized version, have failed to impress the world. We have everything from Christian radio and television to Christian coffee and candy. We have the Dove Awards, the Christian version of The Grammy Awards. We have Christian music, a subculture that creates the same music, but with a "message." We've become a faith that emulates rather than impacts.

We've tried so hard to show the world around us that "Christians can rock too" and that "Christians can be just as funny and cool" as they are...just a little more "holy". The end result seems to be that the world sees no intrinsic difference between them and us, except maybe for the packaging and the lack of quality.

Where did we get this idea from? Certainly not from Jesus. Jesus was relevant to His culture. He spoke their language. He told stories that they could relate to in order to illustrate truth. He didn’t create a sanitized version of the popular culture. He didn't instruct us to do so, either. If anything, Jesus created a movement that was intended to be counter to the culture, not a sanitized version of the same. He was more interested in creating a people that were known for all the ways they were different, not the ways they were the same as the world...only better.

Ask yourself something. Can you name the top five most effective, culturally relevant ministries to come out of the body of Christ in the last 10 years? You know, the one's that have had a profound, lasting impact on the culture by modelling the character of Jesus?

No? For the life of me, I can't either.

Time to create a version of Christianity that isn't a version of anything at all. It's time for Christianity version zero point zero.

Someone hit the reset button...

NOTE: I spoke to Walter Kirn soon after writing this, about 4 years ago, and it turns out he does profess faith in Christ, but he wrote his article while he was the fiction editor at GQ in order to provoke the Body of Christ to change its tune. I had always intended to interview Mr. Kirn, and he consented to one, but I never got around to doing so.

Love to hear your thoughts...

PS-- You can download the entire book for free at the link on the left nav.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Is it a sin for Christian churches to ordain specific people into the ministry of Jesus? Emerging author Tony Jones has been saying exactly that over at his blog lately.

His position is that it is a sin for Christian denominations to ordain specific people into the ministry of the Gospel, and on the basis of the doctrine of the Priesthood of the Believer, I can see his point.

However, I think the real sin here is that everyone who follows Jesus isn’t ordained into the ministry.

As W.C. Ketcherside remarks in his book, “”The Royal Priesthood”:

"Those who were Christians did not speak of "entering the ministry." They were already in it. Everyone entered the ministry at baptism. To be in Christ was to be in the ministry. No one went away to study for "the Ministry." Each one began where he was and announced the Messiah who had come. People did not send for a preacher. They just began preaching. All who had been inducted into the kingdom could tell what they did and why they did it. Every Christian was a minister, everyone was a priest. The congregation was a priesthood--a royal priesthood composed of all believers."

So, I would agree with Mr. Jones that the current model of ordination in our traditional churches is flawed, but for me the flaw is not that certain men are ordained, but that not ALL men (and women) are ordained into the ministry.

If we take Mr. Jones’ position we would be condemning those who hear God’s voice and respond to His calling on their lives to serve others and follow Jesus with their whole life. Instead of condemning those people, we should applaud their example and take this practice all the way to the finish line by opening wide the doors to enter the ministry of Jesus.

“Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." – John 20:21

Every baptized believer is in the ministry. Each of us has been called, and sent, and gifted, to love and serve and proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom to everyone we meet.

This doesn’t mean that we are all evangelists, or that we are all church-planters, or that we are all teachers,(see 1 Corinthians 12). However, it does mean that we are all part of the Body of Christ and that the Holy Spirit has gifted each of us with an important and necessary set of spiritual gifts. These gifts are meant to be used in proportion to our specific calling.

Honestly, I have been licensed and ordained since I was 22 years old, but these days I wish I didn't have the paper. In the beginning it gave me validation for stepping out under the authority of God, but now I can see that it has also created a false sense of clergy/laity - even in our own house church setting.

For example, when we had a baptism recently I was the one who performed it. It didn't even occur to me that by taking that position I was robbing others of the experience we should all feel free to enjoy. I will not do that again, nor will I lead the communion for everyone else.

So, are you a Priest in God's House? Yes, you are! You are in good company with people like Peter the Apostle, A.W. Tozer, and others who love God, have studied His Word on their own, and are passionate about putting it into practice right now.

Every follower of Jesus is a “Missionary”- in the sense that each of us “in the ministry”. The essential thing for each of us, then, is to discover our mission field (where we live, work, eat and sleep), and to step into our ministry (which is determined by our specific gifting by the Holy Spirit).

Now, for those of you who consider yourselves followers of Jesus, I encourage you to go out into your mission field and to step into your daily ministry, because you and I are all ordained into the ministry of Jesus. We are all filled with the Holy Spirit of the Living God. We are Temples of the Holy Spirit. We are all priests of God. We are all living sacrifices.

You have been ordained into the ministry of Jesus, my friends. Let us walk and live and love accordingly.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Three Questions

1) What does Jesus mean when he says, "But with God all things are possible?" in Matthew 19:26?

What is it that Jesus says is "impossible with man" but is "possible with God"?

Is this how you have normally heard this verse applied?

2) What is the "one thing" that the first Christian Church planters were commanded to remember as they went out to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom? (see Galatians 2:10)

Was it sound doctrine? Raising up leaders? Financial support? Or...something else?

3) What was the sin of Sodom according to God Himself in Ezekiel 16:49.

Hint: It's NOT homosexuality.

Are we living in a nation, or attending a church, that is guilty of the same thing?

BONUS QUESTION: Read 2 Cor 4:9-12 and define the Victorious Christian life

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


As someone who writes marketing copy for a large technology company I'm familiar with big business strategies and the rules of marketing. I've attended seminars and workshops and sat through corporate sponsored tutorials on image, branding, messaging and the ABC's of marketing based on how humans behave, how they react, and what they respond to.

At the end of the day it's all about manipulation.

Of course, as I've read and studied and discussed these concepts on a professional level, it's easy to see how someone in the church business might want to take adavantage of these ideas in order to attract more attendees on Sunday morning and put more butts in the seats. Why not? If we know that people today like this or prefer that or expect X, then what's wrong with giving them what they want so that we can achieve what we're shooting for?

Perhaps because, as I have already mentioned, it's really all about manipulation. Perhaps it's also because utilizing these methods blurs the actual, intended purpose of the Church itself?

Jesus did not command us to gather large crowds of people. Good Marketing can help you attract and keep a crowd, but that's not what being a Christian, or following Jesus, is all about.

I ran across a quote today from Janet Schijns of Motorola. At a recent conference for Data Capture and Point of Sale (DC/POS) vendors and resellers she said, "You cannot achieve tomorrow's results with yesterday's methods." From a business perspective this makes sense. Things change and in order to continue to remain profitable it's necessary to keep up with the changing trends and latch onto the most cutting edge technologies available. This works for big biz, but does it work in the Church?

Well, for one thing success in the world of big business is about selling things. It's not about making friends or loving people or serving others or coming alongside the poor or the lonely or the broken. It's not about teaching people how to follow Jesus. Big business defines success as making money, and lots of it, as fast as possible and at the expense of the business down the street from you.

Success in the big business world is about competition. It's about growing your profits. It's about money.

Sadly, the Christian Church in America has decided that success for them is also about competition with the church down the street and about growing larger and making more money. But, if we scan the New Testament we can plainly see that this isn't what Jesus had in mind for His Church.

The major disconnect is that the Church was never meant to be run like a business. The Church, according to the New Testament, is a relational army of servants who give and share and love those around them. It is a family, a bride, an organism and a body. It is a living, breathing, loving, giving, serving representation of Jesus on this Earth.

Was Jesus concerned with competition? Did he affirm his disciples when they chased away someone who was healing in his name, or did he rebuke them for that behavior?

Was Jesus concerned with money? Or did he celebrate both the widow's mite and the harlot's extravagant alabaster expression of love?

Was Jesus concerned with attracting large crowds? Or did he do his best to thin the crowds? Did he retreat to the mountains to be alone? Did he guard his time with his disciples and pour his life into a few?

The quote from Motorola's executive may work for big business, but in the Church if we abandon the example of Jesus and the patterns of the early church in favor of a more business-savvy approach we are in effect improving on Jesus. Is that even possible? Can we improve Jesus?

As a contrast to the quote above let me suggest that if we really hope to enjoy the fruit that the original christians experienced in the book of Acts we must plant and water and nurture as they did. I would suggest that if we want what they had we will have to do what they did.

Let me respectfully suggest an alternate take on this quote for the church: "You cannot achieve yesterday's results with today's methods."

Instead I see pastors beating their heads against the wall trying this method or that program to achieve the community and the discipleship and the passion for Christ that they see in the book of Acts. They continually attempt to get what the Acts Christians had without trying to do what they did.

I call this BBQ Waffles because it's like trying to duplicate someone's waffle recipe by reading and following the advice of gourmet BBQ chefs.

Big business executives know how to make money and increase profits and beat the competition. They do not know how to teach people to love or to serve or to give or to share and they most especially do not know how to teach people how to follow Jesus in their everyday life.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I once wrote an article suggesting that Churches should issue green cards to converts who are baptized in order to remind them that they are resident aliens in this World. Perhaps we should examine our position as resident aliens more closely?

Today I received a very disturbing email from a family member that strongly suggested that every good American Christian citizen should be in favor of jailing and deporting illegal immigrants. It troubled me to think of Christians as those who would applaud as families were torn apart.

Somehow we fail to see that we are more like these resident aliens living here among us in the United States than we realize. Why aren't we out there standing alongside these people? Many of them are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should be demanding that they be treated fairly. We should do all we can to encourage people to see them as worthy human beings who deserve the same chances we've been given.

I understand that this issue is a difficult one. I understand that this issue affects jobs and healthcare and education and our economy on a variety of levels. I am not suggesting that there are any easy answers here. But, as followers of Jesus, as ambassadors of Christ, should we rejoice when others suffer? Should we take delight when families are broken apart or when parents are put in jail?

What about simply praying for these people? I wonder if those who authored this email, and if those who forwarded it on to their friends and family members, have even once gotten on their knees to ask God to show mercy to these aliens in our land?

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." (James 4:4)

Do I love what God hates? Do I hate what He loves? Or do I embrace the political agenda of the masses and obscure the radical love Jesus has called me to?

We, as followers of Jesus, should take our place alongside those who are hated and outcast in our society. We should pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being imprisoned. We should be most comfortable among the the ranks of the misunderstood, the hated, the outcasts and the despised.

We, the Ambassadors of Christ, should go out of our way to embrace those who are, like us, always in the world but never of the world. That means the poor, the prostitutes, the unpopular, the prisoners, and yes, even the undocumented immigrant.

"So show your love for the alien, for you were once aliens in the land of Egypt."
- Deuteronomy 10:19

We need to remember that we, too, were once aliens and strangers in the land, and what's more, as new creatures who now live in the Kingdom reality of God, we are still aliens and strangers in this world.

Let us love in actions and in truth, as Jesus called us to be known for our love and not for our hate.

"The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God." - Leviticus 19:34


Friday, May 08, 2009


Besides my main blog at I've also set up several other blogs and websites to provide free online resources on a variety of topics.

For example:
This website includes statistics on poverty in Orange County, California where I live and also links to various articles on "How To Start a Ministry to the Poor in Your Community" as well as links to other non-profits and organizations that serve the poor.
This website links to a handful of other house churches in the Orange County area and also includes links to articles on house church, links to other voices and blogs in the house church/simple church/organic church community and provides info on how to find a house church, or start one of your own, in the Orange County area.
This is the offical blog website for our house church which we've been hosting now for over 3 years. It includes links to our vision and values and a Flckr page with photos and other fun stuff.

Subversive Underground
From December of 2005 (roughly) to March of this year I published a free, weekly e-newsletter called [Subversive Underground]. The archives are still up at this link and you can read articles on spiritual formation, the early church, discipleship, God's heart for the poor, Christianity in culture and more.

This blog is where I post my sci-fi, comicbook and "less spiritual" thoughts. It also contains links to my previous life as a comicbook industry journalist, and my brief attempts at writing my own sci-fi graphic novels.
This is a museum site showcasing all my great sci-fi story concepts and sample pages on a handful of projects I had going long before I shut it all down and started this blog.
This was a grand social experiment I conducted after being inspired by the 1000 Journals project. We even got a link from those guys to our travelling journal (and hosted another journal's pages) which gave us a lot of exposure.

The concept was to sign people up to receive the journal by mail. They would have a few weeks to add pages and scan them for posting online and then I would tell them who to mail the journal to next. It was great fun and my plan was to subversively communicate Kingdom truth to people in an "under the radar" fashion.

There are some really amazing pages on here but be careful around Journal #7 when you get to the pages of Dutch Smiles. They're not very work-safe...but they're quite thought-provoking, I think.

I have no idea where most of these actual journals are now but I do have the first one and the "Random" journal is in my friend Lito's hands (who was also our web-monkey).

Back in March of 2008 I put together a one-day event called the "Non Conference" with Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis. It was a small gathering of just 100 people. We shared meals, enjoyed simple worship times, and engaged in dialog (rather than monologue) with one another. It was better than I could've imagined thanks to God showing up in a big, big way.

You can download MP3's of our sessions here or on the Non-Con site and there are a few testimonials on the site too.

Will I ever do another one? Only if God really, really wants me to.

As you can see I often get ideas and create websites to provide information and resources for people on subjects I am passionate about.

Other than here I mainly hang out online at Facebook and Twitter.

Hope to see you in cyberspace.


Thursday, May 07, 2009


Last year I self-published two books and gave the PDF's away free of charge. So far I've given away 656 copies of "The Gospel:For Here or To Go?" and 541 copies of "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"

Some people have asked me why I give away my books for free like this. The answer is simple: I feel that God has called me to write and to teach about the Kingdom, the Gospel, and what it means to follow Jesus. These truths are essential and so I feel that it's important that everyone should have the opportunity to read and understand these things.

For those who do purchase the print version I am grateful, although I only earn about $2 per book sold so no one is getting rich over here on the sales of my books (except maybe).

I am currently working on my third book which (so far) is called "Becoming the Church God Always Dreamed Of" and hopefully it will be published later this summer.

My plan is to give away the PDF download version of the new book as well.

You can download my books, or purchase the actual print versions at my online store:

Thanks for your support and encouragement.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Over the last few days I have been thinking a lot about how following Jesus affects our actual lives. Specifically, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it really means to love our enemies, and turn the other cheek, and overcome evil with good. If I take the words of Jesus seriously, they have strong implications for me when it comes to war, and violence, and torture.

Last week an article was published that revealed a disappointing trend for church-going Christians to support the torture of our enemies. This lead me to respond here on this blog and a dialog was started in the comments section that continues to challenge my ideas of sincere discipleship to Christ and how it collides with my ingrained sense of patriotic pride.

You see, I am a good Republican Christian. Or, at least, I was raised as one in my Southern Baptist church back in Texas. These radical ideas of actually following Jesus and putting his words and teachings into practice are only just now beginning to churn within my heart and mind. I hear myself saying things I never thought I would say, and part of me bristles with the sound of my own voice and the inflection of these anti-military, pro-peace concepts.

Beyond my own internal struggles with these radical ideas of peace and love for enemies, I have an additional challenge to wrestle with. My father-in-law spent most of his life in the military and civil service. Several of my dearest friends are either in the military now or have served overseas in the Gulf War. I do not speak of these things lightly or without full realization that my words here may have emotional consequences. Let me apologize in advance to those friends of mine who are confused by what I’m suggesting here. My intention is not to offend or to insult you or anyone else in the military. But, when I honestly ask these questions and investigate these issues, I am troubled by what I see and hear and learn.

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm." – John 18:36

What does it mean to be part of the Kingdom of God? What is the true cost of following Jesus?

Am I willing to follow Him even if it means giving up my identity as a good American citizen?

What do I do when the Gospel and the Constitution collide? Where do my allegiances lie?

How do you obey Jesus in the command to love your enemy and still take up a weapon and kill him with it?

How do you obey Jesus in the command to turn the other cheek and drop bombs on his children?

How do you obey Jesus in the command to pray for those who persecute you and forgive those who hate you and fire rockets into their cities?

For anyone serious about following Jesus you have to start, as you might have guessed, with Jesus. What did Jesus teach? How did Jesus model our practice of faith? How did those first Christians walk out the things that Jesus taught them? We can look at how they walked and lived and practiced following Jesus for a clue as to how we (you and I) should also follow Jesus.

Those early Christians (for over 300 years) were put to the sword, thrown to the lions, had property confiscated, were imprisoned, burned alive, etc. and not one single Christian (not one in all of our recorded history, whether pagan or Christian in origin) - not one of them took up a sword in self-defense. Not one of them killed to protect their property. Not one of them killed to save themselves from being imprisoned or tortured or burned or eaten alive.

Is this compatible with the American Dream? Does this behavior have any correlation with the founders of American independence? Hardly. Although we’re always told that our founding fathers were focused on creating a nation where religious freedom was paramount, it seems incongruous for a follower of Jesus to fight for his right to love his enemies peacefully.

How did we get to this point? After about 300 years of enduring oppression and persecution, Emperor Constantine not only lifted the boot from the necks of Christians, he put their leaders on the payroll of the Empire, handed them ornate marble temples to worship in and elevated their pastors to high positions within the political arena.

What’s more, Constantine was allowed to re-define for the entire Church what it meant to be a Christian. Before this, a follower of Jesus was defined as someone who put the words and teachings of Jesus into practice every day of their life. After Constantine’s influence, the definition of "Christian" was changed to: "Someone who believes a set of doctrines". This definition still dominates our imaginations today, in fact. And I believe it’s why Christians today can claim to be “followers of Jesus” without actually, you know, “following” Him.

The effect on the Christian community of Constantine’s day was devastating. Within just one generation we have those same peaceful, formerly-oppressed Christians taking up the sword to go and put to death and oppress and persecute another group of people who disagree with their religion. The oppressed become the oppressors. Those under the sword now take up the sword and fight for the very Empire that once put them to death.

This same paradigm shift is what allows Christians in America to support torture, and to cheer military victory, and to participate in the killing with little or no reservations about how any of this might be anti-Christian behavior.

I have to ask, can you honestly picture Jesus allowing or endorsing or supporting torture? Really? Can you honestly picture Jesus blessing his disciples to go out and kill people? Seriously?

I can't. I'm sorry.

As Lew Rockwell, author of “Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State” asks:

“Can a Christian smash someone against a wall in the name of the Lord Jesus? Can a Christian heartily lock someone in a dark box for hours at a time? Can a Christian deprive someone of sleep to the glory of God? Can a Christian give thanks to God while he hangs someone from the ceiling?

Sure he can, but not without violating the whole tenor of the New Testament.

Christians are told to put off anger, wrath, and malice (Colossians 3:8), to not render evil for evil (1 Thessalonians 5:15), to not give offense (1 Corinthians 10:30), to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), to not be a brawler (Titus 3:2), and to abhor that which is evil (Romans 12:9). I think this rules out waterboarding.”

I must agree.

If we are serving a king and a kingdom from this world, then let us take up arms against our oppressors and kill every last one of them. However, if our king and our kingdom is not of this world, then let us not fight. Instead let us obey our King and love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us and do good to those who hate us.

Let us live a life where practicing our faith and actually following Jesus with our everyday life defines our Christianity, no matter what.

Keith Giles

Friday, May 01, 2009


I've been saying for a long time now that being a Christian in today's culture does not equate with being a "follower of Jesus" and once again we have more proof of this sad fact.

Today's top story on most internet news pages is that a majority of regular, church-going Christians are more likely to support torture.

Read the full story

What really saddens me is that we live in a world where those who claim to follow Jesus are completely divorced from what it actually means to love and live as Jesus would.

Instead, we have Christians in America who believe that if they vote the right way and belong to the right political groups and read the right books and watch the right TV shows and listen to the right kinds of music that they are "Christians".

How can someone who claims to be a disciple of Jesus turn around and say that it's alright to torture another human being? For any reason?

More and more I find that there is a blurred line in American Christianity between "The American Way" and "The Kingdom of God".

The Kingdom of God and the American Dream are not the same thing, and in fact, they are two opposing viewpoints which are in conflict on many levels.

The American Dream is founded on the concept of every person's right to the pursuit of happiness. Whatever you can imagine would make you happy you are free to pursue it with all your heart. That's your right.

The Kingdom of God is founded on the concept of laying down your life, your idea of what will make you happy, in favor of receiving what Jesus knows will really make you happy.

Following Jesus involves laying down your life and giving up your rights. It means full and complete submission to God because you recognize that His perfect will for your life is a million times better than anything you could ever dream up, or pursue, on your own.

Jesus didn't ever instruct any of his disciples to fight for their God-given, "Inalienable Rights", and neither did Paul the Apostle. In fact, they both encouraged their disciples to live humble lives, serving others and not demanding more because they deserved more. Paul even specifically told those followers of Christ who were slaves to remain slaves, even if they were being mistreated.

Historically, the early Christians didn't fight for their rights as citizens, they took it on the chin, and in the Lion's den, and in the arena. They literally would rather die than to take another person's life.

Simply put, they followed their Lord and Savior, Jesus and they followed His example of non-violence and submissive service to those who hated and mistreated them. Does that sound like the American Dream to you?

We cannot afford to become distracted by nationalism or led astray by politics.

As followers of Jesus, He must be our one and only priority and influence. This is what it means to make Jesus our Lord.

As Christian pastor and activist Jim Wallis has said, "God is not a Republican or a Democrat. God is not partisan. God is not ideologically committed to our Left or Right. God's politics challenges all of our politics. It includes the people our politics regularly leave out; the poor and the vulnerable. That's God's politics."

It would have been virtually impossible for an unbeliever living in those first three hundred years of Church History to ever reject Christianity on the grounds that it lacked compassionate people or failed to teach loving kindness.

In fact, we have testimony from many of the most hostile pagans who lived during the first three hundred years of Christianity who were put to shame because of the overwhelming generosity of the Church. Julian, the Apostate wrote of this frustrating situation when he said, "..The godless Galileans feed not only their poor, but ours also."

Christian philosopher Aristides (125 AD) wrote about the radical charity of the early Church also, recording the fact that, "…if there is among them a man that is poor and needy and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast for three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food."

For a Christian, killing our enemies is not acceptable. If being a good American citizen means you need to cheer on a war that kills innocent people then you must lay aside your Christianity.

If being a faithful member of a political party trumps over 2,000 verses in the word of God about caring for the poor, then you need to make a choice.

A few years ago I had an opportunity to speak to Jim Wallis on this very subject and his response has stayed with me ever since. He said, "The Church today is more American than Christian. The Kingdom of God is not the same as the American Empire. When we are more American than Christian we confuse the meaning of the Body of Christ with any nation state. This notion of the Church as a counter-cultural movement is Biblically obvious. There's no doubt about that. We're in the world to transform the world for the sake of this new order that has come in Jesus Christ. If Jesus' vision of the Kingdom was so threatening, why is our vision of the Kingdom so safe?"

The Gospel of the Kingdom is not the American Dream.

It saddens me to see Christians more passionate about their political party than they are about the Kingdom of God.

(some of the above post was taken from a previous [Subversive Underground] article)