Friday, June 30, 2017


I was sleeping soundly after our first Friday evening session at the Unconference in Nashville when I awakened from a dream.

In the dream I saw myself speaking at the conference - something I was scheduled to do first thing on Saturday morning - but instead of speaking about how we should untangle our faith from politics I heard myself speaking about another topic.

I laid there in the bed, located in the basement of Steve and Ernie Simms' house in Nashville and looked up at the sea of glow-in-the-dark stars which were glued to the ceiling above me.

A glance at my phone said it was 3:10 a.m.

There was no doubt in my mind that the Lord wanted me to speak about this new topic. I quickly rolled out of bed and got on my knees to pray about what I'd seen.

After a few moments I felt a very strong urge to write down the message so I wouldn't forget it.

What I had heard was simply this: There are 3 things holding back the flood.

I knew this was a specific message for the people who were with us for the Unconference. The night before had been filled with expectation and I had sensed a strong sense of hunger for experiencing the kind of ekklesia where Jesus is the Head and the people operate as fully-functional members of the Body of Christ.

But, now, the Lord was highlighting three specific barriers that were holding back this flood of the Lord's anointing and presence.

After writing it all down I was too wired to sleep so I picked up my iPod and checked my messages.

As I was responding to a post on Facebook my cell phone buzzed to let me know I was receiving a text. "Who was texting me at 3 a.m.?" I wondered.

It was Richard Jacobson. His text read: "What are you doing up at 3 a.m.?"

I texted back to let him know that the Lord had given me a new message for our morning session. He said that he had also received a new direction for the Lord for his sessions too.

By the time the morning session started I was anxious to share what the Lord had given me.

I started things off by inviting the young girl up who had the vision from the night before about the giant fire hose being lowered down to us and gushing spouts of living water over all of us.

After she finished, I let everyone know that my session was not going to be about faith and politics but about 3 things that were holding back the flood.

Here's what I shared:

Many of you here have been hurt by your brothers and sisters in the Church. The Lord sees your pain. He knows how much it hurts when they slander you, and when they shun you for seeking to experience the ekklesia and practice the Headship of Christ. He understands and validates your suffering.

But, you need to forgive them. You need to let it go. The Lord cannot put something new into your hands if you haven't let go of your pain. He can't move you forward until you allow Him to heal your wounds.

Give this hurt to Jesus. Let Him heal you. Let Him show you how to love your brothers and sisters.

Pray for them. Pray a blessing over them. Pray for their marriage. Pray a blessing over their ministry. Pray for their finances to increase. Pray for their children. Pray the Lord's favor over them. Not because you feel it, but because the Lord has commanded you to bless those who curse you and do good to those who mistreat you.

At first it will only be words, but as you continue to pray for them, the Lord will soften and change your heart and eventually you will mean every word of what you are asking, and that's when you'll know you have surrendered your pain to Him.

Some of you are waiting for permission. You're not sure you're qualified to start a church in your home. You're afraid you don't have the authority to do this.

But the Lord says, you are already licensed and ordained into the ministry of the Gospel of Christ by the Holy Spirit of the Living God.

If you are sensing His calling to go and do this - go and do this! He will be with you all the way.

You are called. You are chosen. You are qualified.

Do not wait to be equipped before you step out. As you step out, you will be equipped.

You've been waiting for the guru to arrive and show you what to do. But the Lord says, the expert you are waiting for is within you! You have the Lord Jesus Christ living inside of you.

Go. Just go, knowing that He will never leave you, nor forsake you.

Finally, there are some of you who are waiting for a road map. You're ready and willing to go, but you're waiting for someone to navigate every step that may come your way.

The Lord says that you are pioneers. Where you are going there is no map.

The map you are looking for will be drawn as you go and others who come behind you will follow the trail that you have cut for them along the way.

Cut the path. Blaze the trail.

Remember: The Lord loves to do extraordinary things through ordinary people. Every "hero" of the faith in the Bible was a weak, flawed, broken person. This is why the Lord touched them and did magnificent things through them; because He knew they could never take credit for the great things He would do in their weakness.

As Paul told us, "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." [2 Cor. 4:7]

Many of you came here today because you thought this was a conference. But this is not a conference, it's a launching pad. The Lord wants to fill you up and send you out.

The countdown has already started.


So, this is how we started things off on Saturday morning. It only got more awesome from there.

More testimonies to follow.


Thursday, June 29, 2017


The Unconference event in Nashville was just awesome. 

Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to explain exactly how awesome, because there are so many little stories that I can't just tell you one of them to explain it.

So, instead, over the next few days I will try to share a few of those stories here.

In general, there were about 80 people there from all over - Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Virginia, California - and of course from Tennessee. 

My co-hosts were Richard Jacobson and Steve Simms. Both are amazing guys. 

I knew Richard really well and he continued to bless me as I got to meet him in person after knowing him online for like 5 years. [But I feel like I've known him my whole life]. 

Steve was a practical stranger to me, but I stayed with him and his wife and they were both solid gold. Just amazing hearts and humble, kind, loving people.

Overall, I had a half dozen conversations with people who pulled me aside to thank me for my books, and who quoted specific blog articles I had written [some of them 9 years ago!] and thanked me for helping them to learn, or grow in their faith. That was really so encouraging to me.

Our goal with this event was to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and take us off the map if He wanted to - and He really did!

On Friday evening, Steve Simms shared an unbelievable story: A few years ago he had run across a book - quite by accident - of "Street Names in Nashville and Their Origins". Curious, he picked it up and searched for the origin of "Berry Street" [where his church meets, and also where our Unconference was being hosted].

To his surprise, he learned that the street had been named for Berry McFerrin, a Methodist minister from the 1800's. 

But that's not all. He then looked and found a biography of this man and there found this testimony about a time in his life when Mr. Berry McFerrin had attended youth meetings and was inspired by their similarities to those in Acts:

“The meetings were greatly blessed.  We read the Scriptures, we sang, we prayed, we spoke often one to another, and the Lord listened and heard.  Here I heard much of Christian experience, and learned to understand the wants of others.  Here I learned to give words of exhortation and comfort, and here I learned to appreciate the trials and temptations connected with the life of a Christian.  Fifty years have passed and the precious seasons that I enjoyed then are still fresh in my memory.  I regard class meetings as among the greatest providential means of grace ever instituted in the church.  They did much to keep me in the path, and gave me many encouragements through hearing the experience of older and wiser Christians than myself.  Class meeting is about the best theological school ever organized.  It was a sad day when it declined in the church; and I hope and pray the time may come when it will be revived in the church.”
But, the book reveals, Mr. McFerrin never lived to rediscover that experience again. However, his prayer was answered nearly 200 years later when the Berry Street Worship Center was built...across the street from where he once lived and prayed that prayer!

So, after hearing this story, Steve led us all outside and across the street to the park where his house had once stood. There, we all held hands and stood in a circle to thank the Lord for answering this prayer.

As we stood there praying, a young girl of about 16 saw a vision of a massive fire hose coming out of the sky and flooding the ground with water which gushed in all directions. She shared about how it was so strong it felt as if it would have knocked her down if she hadn't been holding hands with others in our prayer circle.

That next morning I was supposed to be sharing in the first session about my book "Jesus Untangled" and the need to untangle faith and politics. 

But the night before, around 3am, the Lord woke me up and told me there were 3 things holding back the flood for many people at the Unconference. [More on this later]

I had the whole thing laid out for me. So, I got out of bed, got on my knees and thanked the Lord for this new direction. Then I wrote it all down. After that, I couldn't sleep, so I checked my messages and posted a few things on Facebook.

Almost immediately, I received a text from Richard Jacobson asking me why I was awake at 3am. I told him what had happened with the dream and he said the Lord had awakened him and given him a new message to share in his session, too!

That next morning I took us off the map and shared what the Lord had given me to say. 

I spoke for about 20 minutes and then I invited people to come up and confirm if this was for them. 

Soon, many of the people started to come up and confess that at least one of those 3 things were holding them back and keeping them from experiencing more of the Lord in their personal life and in their church life. 

That's only what the Lord did before lunch on Saturday.

It was an amazing weekend. 

We're already planning to do it again next year.

More to come...


Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Plough has been hosting an ongoing discussion among Christians about the proper role of the believer in politics and public life. (See especially Plough Quarterly No. 11Alien Citizens – The Politics of the Kingdom of God”).

Here is another refreshing perspective from Keith Giles:

During Christianity’s first three hundred years Christians were not entangled with politics nor tempted to advance their cause by passing laws. Interestingly, however, there were many Roman soldiers and political officials who converted to the faith. In fact, this happened often enough that several early Christian teachers gave instructions on how to respond to this trend.



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

PODCAST INTERVIEW: Preston Sprinkle Talks To Keith Giles

Today in the basement Preston Sprinkle is talking to Keith Giles. Most recently, Keith is the author of Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics to Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb.

The book dives into the relationship of Christianity and politics and even suggests that "the greatest threat to Christianity is American Christianity".

Keith is also a part of a house church that gives away 100% of all offerings to the poor in their community. 

You can follow Keith on twitter @keithgiles


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Walking In The Light Of Jesus

This morning I had an informal debate, of sorts, with a friend online. 

He wanted to talk with me regarding the "Flat Bible vs Jesus-Centric" approach to the scriptures which I introduced in chapter two of my book "Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb."

At first, we were just comparing the two views, but then it started to turn into more of an actual debate when my friend said that he believed we still needed to read the words of Jesus "in the light of the Old Testament."

This set me off into a much longer exploration that I wanted to share here on the blog with all of you.

Here's how I responded to my friend:

We don't read the words of Jesus "in the light of the Old Testament" because the OT has no light. Jesus is the light that has come into the world. He is the light. He shines on the Old Testament, the Old Testament does not shine on Jesus.

Now, yes, the Old Testament scriptures point to Jesus, so in that sense it does "shed light" on Jesus, but those scriptures do not modify His teachings or His life. He modifies everything.

Jesus is the source. The Old Testament scriptures are the shadow. 
He is the light.  
We are told that there a veil that covers the eyes of those who read the Old Testament apart from Christ; a veil that is only removed when read through the lens of Christ. 

[This process is not reversed].

As Brian Zahnd says in his latest book, "The only thing the Scripture does inerrantly and infallibly is point us to Christ." 

Once we see and receive Him, then He illuminates the Old Testament for us - to show us more of Himself. But without Him we do not have light, or life. 

The Law brought death, not life. It points us to Life and Light in Christ, but it, by itself, does not contain "the Words of Life" as Jesus does."For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." - John 1:17

"Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." - John 6:68

We can agree that, yes, the OT and the NT are inspired by the same Spirit, but with different purposes and audiences in mind. 

But I would add that we begin with Christ and read those scriptures in light of who He is and how He revealed the Father to us, because no one has ever seen God at any time in the past. Only Jesus reveals the Father to us in perfect clarity. [See John 1:18]

It's about a process, I think. There are degrees of "knowing".

We know God best of all in Christ. He is the clearest picture we could ever have of what the Father is really like - and has always been like - and anything that conflicts with the image of the invisible God revealed in Christ must bow and conform to His image [not the other way around].

I think we can agree that my Flat Bible definition [in the book] isn't actually "flat" because in practice the OT scriptures are used to modify Christ's teachings [not the other way around]. 

I use that term "Flat Bible" because it reflects the mindset of the approach that all scriptures [theoretically] have equal weight, even if, in practice, they obviously don't. All too often, the Old Testament scriptures are used to modify the words of Jesus.

The question is: When there is an apparent conflict between the teachings of Jesus and an OT scripture - who overrides who? Who "wins" in that conflict ?

If the words of Jesus are not the one and only standard by which all other scriptures are measured, that [to me] is a "Flat Bible" approach. 

Or, call it whatever you like, but it is certainly not "Jesus-Centric", is it?

Does that help? If not, I have written quite a bit on this subject here on the blog.

Read more here:

Monday, June 19, 2017


Yesterday in our house church meeting, one of our dear sisters in Christ shared something that she had heard someone else share last week.

Her friend had looked up the names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and discovered that the meaning of each name actually formed part of an amazing promise when placed alongside all the other names. 

She shared it with us and it was really inspiring so I asked her to send it to me. 

The list she sent me only had the sentence, but not the corresponding name of the tribes to go with is, but I started to look it up on my own.

Here's what I found:

Reuben: See, a son!
Simeon: The Lord has heard that I am unloved
Levi: I have become attached to my love
Judah: Yahweh be praised!
Dan: God has judged my case and heard my voice
Naphtali: I have wrestled and prevailed
Gad: Good fortune has come!
Asher: I am happy and called blessed.
Issachar: God has given me my wages/reward
Zebulun: now my love dwells with me
Joseph: The Lord will provide the increase
Benjamin: [by] the son at his right hand.

All together these names read:

“See, a son! The Lord has heard that I am unloved and I have become attached to my love. Yahweh be praised! God has judged my case and heard my voice. I have wrestled and prevailed. Good fortune has now come! I am happy and blessed. God has given me my wages [reward] and now my love dwells with me. The Lord will provide the increase by the Son at His right hand."

Wow. Isn't that awesome?

I hope that blesses you today. 

If it did, why not share it with your friends on Twitter or Facebook?


BONUS: I shared this with my friend Steve Kline over at Living Room Theology and he, of course, already knew all about this and had written a post of his own a few months ago.

Check out Steve's perspective on this here>

Friday, June 16, 2017


One thing I have found very fascinating in N.T. Wright’s newest book, “The Day The Revolution Began” is the exploration on what is meant by “forgiveness of sins” in the context of the story of Israel.

Throughout the Old Testament scriptures, we read over and over again how God established His people in a “Promised Land” only to have them rebel against Him – or sin – and then being exiled as punishment.

This is the consistent picture throughout the Bible story: God blesses His people – They sin – He exiles them from this good land – They repent of their sins – He restores them to their land.

This pattern is first established in Genesis chapters one and two. God creates a beautiful world, places His wonderful creatures in a garden, they sin and are exiled from the garden.

The rest of Israel’s story is simply this same narrative repeated over and over again with slight variations.

So, if we keep this in mind, then “forgiveness of sins” means the end of exile and the opportunity to return once again to the good land where the people are once again living under the rule and reign of God.

Jesus, the Messiah, arrives on the scene and proclaims that the Kingdom of God is at hand and the gates are wide open to anyone who wants to return to the “good land” provided by the King Himself.

Because of the death of Christ, we are no longer exiled from God or His “good land” [Kingdom] but freely encouraged to return home, once and for all.

Wright also makes another interesting point later on in his book about how Jesus was falsely accused and crucified for “our sins”. He was not a violent revolutionary, although the people of Israel certainly wanted Him to be. In fact, this violent rebellion was in their hearts – not in His heart. Yet, Jesus suffers the penalty for their sin of violent rebellion, which under Roman law was crucifixion.

Think about that: The people’s sin was that they wanted a violent rebellion against Rome. Jesus did not want this. The penalty for violent rebellion against Rome was crucifixion. The people were eager for this rebellion and in their hearts this desire for violence against Rome was equal to actually committing the sin. 

Remember Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount about how looking at a woman with lust was equal to actual adultery? The same principle is in effect here: The people wanted a violent rebellion and the wages of that sin was crucifixion on a Roman cross. But who suffered the punishment for that sin? Was it the people whose hearts were crying out for armed rebellion? No. It was Jesus, the Messiah who came urging them all to love their enemies, bless those who persecuted them and walk the extra mile whenever a Roman soldier handed them their pack to carry.

In this way, Jesus died "for their sins". Their sin was a desire for rebellion. Their penalty was crucifixion, but Jesus took their place on that cross and suffered their fate.

This act of love indicated that their sins were forgiven and that now their exile was over. They could now return home and live once more in the “good land” of the Kingdom of God where Jesus would be their King.

This is Good News. The exile is over. We are free to return home, forever. Our Abba is throwing wide the gates of His Kingdom and welcoming any and all to come and live in his “good land”.

“Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand!” – Jesus, Messiah.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Why I Love The Word of God

I love to read. Ever since I was very young, my parents would read to me. I think that’s why I love stories, and why I, eventually, became a writer.

When I was in Elementary school, I read anything and everything I could put my hands on. My earliest favorites were Sherwood Anderson, Ambrose Bierce, and Isaac Asimov. But soon I moved on to Ian Fleming, Alistair MacLean, Alan Dean Foster and Ray Bradbury.

One day, while visiting our pastor’s house, his wife noticed I was carrying a satchel of books with me and asked me an interesting question: “Have you ever read the World’s Best-Selling book?”

I stopped to consider her question and then said, “No, probably not. What is it?”

She replied: “It’s an amazing old book full of adventure, danger, love, betrayal, war and redemption.”

“Sounds cool,” I said. “What’s the title?”

Of course, she was talking about the Bible, and based on her challenge I started to read it every night before going to bed.

My routine was to lay in bed and read whatever adventure novel I was devouring at the moment and then setting that down to read at least one chapter from the Bible before I went to sleep each night.

In just over a year and a half, I had read through most of the entire Bible.

Why so quickly? Because, first of all, I often read more than just one chapter, and second of all, I skipped most of Leviticus because it was just too boring.

But that was the first time I read the Bible.

Later, as a Junior High student I started to read the Bible because I was helping our youth pastor to lead Bible Studies. As a High School student I was leading book studies in the Gospel of Luke [which I immediately regretted because each chapter was just a marathon to get through each week], and Isaiah [because things in the Middle East were heating up and everyone – including me – was convinced that the End Times were upon us].

In college I read through the Bible because I discovered a renewed love for Jesus at a Baptist Retreat Center in Glorietta, New Mexico. Some of the seminars and workshops I attended got me interested in Spiritual Warfare so I started studying that topic on my own.

Of course, as a college student with a minor in Philosophy I quickly encountered opposition to my dearly-held faith. A few of my professors really attacked Christianity and that sent me back to my Bible to find out if what they were saying about Jesus and the Scriptures was true or not. Because of this I started really getting into Apologetics, and Young Earth/Old Earth evidences and even put together a little 4 part series of lectures about Evolution and Creation.

But all through this I read and re-read my Bible. I underlined. I circled. I made notes in the margins. I stuck notes all through the Bible on folded slips of paper. I wrote references to important verses in every blank page and white space I could find.

Eventually that Disciples Study Bible I bought in college started to fall part. First the cover began to come lose. I wrapped the spine in duct tape and kept on reading it and studying it.

About five years ago I was leading a Men’s Bible Study for some guys from Saddleback Church. They took up a collection and bought me a brand new ESV Study Bible to replace my raggedy duct tape Bible, but I honestly still use that one more often because it has all my notes and I know where to find everything in it.

I love my Bible. I really do. If you tried to come over to my house and take my Bible away from me, you’d have to cut my arms off to get it out of my hands.

But, as much as I love my Bible, I love Jesus even more. A hundred thousand million times more.

See, that book told me all about this magnificent person named Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me. It pointed me to a God who would rather die than live without me. I fell in love – not with the Book which told me about Him – but with Jesus, Himself!

I’ve told you about my relationship with that Book, but I haven’t mentioned my incredible relationship with Jesus: I haven’t told you about how He revealed Himself to me; how He called me by His Spirit; how He answered my prayers; how He worked miracles in my life; how He whispered in my ear to stop me from getting shot dead by a prison sniper while performing with my band at a minimum security prison; about how He healed my Dad’s shattered spine and re-formed his vertebrae so he wouldn’t be paralyzed; about how He provided for my family financially while I was out of work for over a year and a half [the first time] and another year the time after that; about how He fulfilled His specific promises to me during that time in ways I could have never imagined; and about how He called us to start a church where 100 percent of the offering would go to help the poor in our community; and so much more.

But if I told you about those things here in this blog article and your response was only to say, “Wow! What a glorious article!” you would have missed my entire point, wouldn’t you?

Because what’s really glorious and awesome isn’t the blog or the article about what Jesus did for me. No, what’s amazing and awesome is Jesus and the article only informs you of how awesome He is.

The Bible is wonderful. I do love and appreciate my Bible so very much. But my love for Jesus is so far and away greater and more precious to me than anything else in the universe, that I can’t even begin to compare it to anything else.

Does this mean my Bible is useless? Hardly. I will use it today and tomorrow and every day for the rest of my life here on this earth. It is very useful to me.

But my relationship isn’t with a book about Jesus – it’s with Jesus, whom the book is about!

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” – Hebrews 1:1-3

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” [John 1:1-3]

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth….” [v.14]

God’s Word, at one time, was only written down on a page and bound in a book or wrapped in a scroll.

But when Jesus arrived that Word took on flesh and blood; laughed and cried; breathed and sang; taught and healed like never before.

There were some men who wrote down what they saw this Living Word do and say, but those words about that Word are not the Word. They are still words about Him, and our worship belongs to the God who is the Word – and to Him alone.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the Bible which tells of your excellent greatness. But thank you, even more, for your living presence within us that testifies day and night of your enduring love for us and causes us to cry out “Abba! Father!” and listen for your answer in the still, small voice of the Good Shepherd that every one of your sheep knows so well.

"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." - Jesus [John 5:39-40]

Monday, June 12, 2017

DEBATE: The Two Kingdoms: Mark Van Steenwyck and Keith Giles

In our first ever debate on the Libertarian Christian Podcast, author Keith Giles returns to debate author/activist Mark van Steenwyk on Two Kingdoms theology and Christian involvement in formal politics. 

As he explained in our earlier interview, Giles holds that formal politics is not a proper task of the Christian life. Van Steenwyk counters that Christians must be involved in direct political activism so as to undermine oppression and promote God's justice in the world. 

Nick serves as moderator and asks some critical questions of both debaters. We haven't heard of anyone advocating for a Three Kingdom theology, but if you're such a person and are offended that your position didn't get any press here, you might consider lobbying the FCC to implement the so-called Fairness Doctrine, but as much as we'd like to see Christian libertarian thought get air time on MSNBC we still wouldn't recommend that course of action.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Word of God and the Bible

Over the last week or so I have been engaged in numerous online debates [mostly on Facebook] about Jesus being the “Word of God” [as opposed to the Bible], and Jesus being greater than the Scriptures.

Most of those arguing against these ideas are assuming [wrongly] that I take a low view of scripture. But that’s not at all what I’m saying.
My single aim is this: To point people to Jesus. If anything gets in the way of people knowing Jesus and following Jesus, then I am going to do my best to point it out and help people turn their faces and their hearts back to Jesus. 

For some Christians – not all of them – their Bible actually does get in their way. It takes the place in their hearts that should belong to Christ alone. 

But, more and more I am encountering brothers and sisters in Christ who cannot separate the book from the person that book points to.

Some have even flat-out argued that Jesus and the Bible are the same. Others have asked if there is more of God to know outside of the Bible, as if He could be bound in a book.

In response I have tried to point out that the Father gave Jesus a name that is above every name, [see Phil. 2:1-11]. If so, then wouldn't that also mean His name is above the Bible?

Now, I realize that if I simply wrote about how awesome Jesus was, most Christians would have no problem with any of that. The problem comes only when I dare to suggest that Jesus' awesomeness eclipses the Bible.
And that’s the problem, isn’t it?
Because Jesus affirms that He is greater than Solomon, and that He is greater than the Temple, and Jonah, Moses, Elijah, Jacob and Abraham.
All of that is presumably ok. [At least no one has challenged me on those claims yet].
But once I suggest that Jesus is greater than the book which was written by those guys and that points to Jesus, that, apparently, is going too far?

“Does this mean we should just throw out our Bibles?”

[I hear this all the time]

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: I think I've said this a few dozen times, and I am more than happy to say it again now: I will not, would not, could not, and do not suggest throwing out the scriptures.

I love the scriptures. I read them. I teach from them. I study them. I memorize them. I turn to them for guidance.

I value the scriptures. 

If you tried to come over to my house and take away my Bibles you would have to cut off my arms to get them away from me. 

Nowhere - not in this post, or in any of my blog articles, or in my books - never do I suggest that the Bible is worthless, or irrelevant, or that we should not read it or study it. 

That is not what I am saying.

Maybe that is part of our ongoing misunderstanding? When I say that Jesus is greater than the book, or that the Word of God became flesh and not paper and ink, what some keep hearing me say is: “The Bible is useless”.

For the record: I love, love, love, LOVE the scriptures because they point me to Jesus.

But I love Jesus a bazillion times more!

My relationship is not with a book. Even an amazing book like the Bible. 

My relationship is with Jesus. 

Yes, I would not know about Jesus if it wasn't for what I have read in scripture about Him. For that I am sincerely grateful. Very, very grateful.

But now that I DO know Jesus, I have a relationship with Him that is greater than my relationship with the book. 

That does not mean I do not continue to read or study the book. Because I do. All the time.

What it does mean is that Jesus is more amazing and mysterious and astounding than any book - even the Bible - can ever fully describe. 

Jesus is not the Bible. The Bible is not Jesus. 

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. He came to dwell among us, and now He lives within us by His Spirit. 

I can hear His voice because He is the Good Shepherd and I am one of His sheep.

Does that mean I don't hear His voice through the Scriptures?

No, I do still hear His voice through the Scriptures.

But, I also hear His voice through the Holy Spirit.

I also hear His voice through other people, and sometimes through dreams, or through circumstances and events, and sometimes even music and art. 

Does any of that devalue the Bible?

No. I still value the Bible very much. [see above]

But none of that eclipses Christ Himself. He is not limited by any of those things but magnified.


Friday, June 09, 2017

How Do We Make Disciples? 5 Stages Every Christian Should Follow

A friend asked me earlier this week:

"How do we fulfill the Great Commission if we don't teach, instruct and persuade? What about Galatians when Paul told us to rebuke (he said more than rebuke) any who bring a different Gospel? Are we in danger of allowing the Gospel to be subverted if we are soft? I'm asking sincerely, without judgement because I struggle with this issue."

Here's my response: We can't make a disciple until that person is asking to follow Jesus. We don't force people to agree with us and call that disciple-making.

Stage 1: We demonstrate the love of Christ to people and model His character.

Stage 2: We answer them when this behavior begs the question: "What is the reason for the hope [and love] that you have within?"

Stage 3: We slowly introduce them to Jesus and pray for the Holy Spirit to make Himself [and Christ] known to those who are exhibiting hunger for the Bread of Life.

Stage 4: We collaborate with the Holy Spirit in the work that He - and only He - is doing in their hearts, minds and lives.

Stage 5: We teach those people to follow Jesus in their everyday life so that they can start to practice Stage 1 [see above].

If our emphasis is on informing people of another faith - or no faith at all - how "wrong" they are and how "right" we are, we are not obeying Jesus' commands to "go into all the world and preach the Good News of the Kingdom, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded...".

Because the Gospel is not about mere "information", it's about "transformation" and if we are not first transformed by the Gospel into people who love and live differently than those around us, then we'll never convince anyone that this Gospel has the power to transform them either.


Thursday, June 08, 2017


We cannot properly speak of the ministry of reconciliation without first experiencing the very deep and profound ache of separation and the ruthless brutality of life apart from the love of God.

Once we truly know the overwhelming despair of being so separated from the Father, then we might begin to understand how a word of condemnation from our lips could never, in any way, be confused with the kind of self-giving agape love that Jesus calls us to demonstrate to people who have never experienced it as we have.

"Love one another as I have loved you." - Jesus

This means that our mission is to love people sincerely, and from the heart.[1 Peter 1:22]

We have to stop first and ask: "How has Jesus loved me?"

And then we take from that list and find ways to duplicate that kind of self-sacrificing, others-focused love to people who need it the most.

How do you know if you're loving people the way Jesus commanded?

Simple: If they feel loved, then you're doing it right. 

If they don't feel loved by you, then you're doing it wrong.

No Christian should ever cause anyone to doubt that God loves them.

And that love has to start with us.

"Go and do likewise." - Jesus


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

How To Transform Culture Without Being Entangled In Politics

Honestly, this is a very challenging topic for me. Not only to write about, but more so to walk out in a practical way.

Here’s why: Because quite often people will mistake engaging the culture with being political.

For example, systemic racism is a pervasive reality in America. For many, this is seen as a political issue and not a moral issue. Therefore, if I write about the evils of racism, or if I point out the injustices suffered by people of color in this nation, I am often accused of being political.

But justice and politics are not the same thing.

Justice is about pointing out what is wrong [injustice] and working to make it right again.

So, feeding the hungry, caring for the outcast, standing alongside the LGBTQ community, speaking out against exploitation, and shining a light on racial inequality isn’t about politics – it’s about justice.

Politics is about choosing sides, advocating for laws to be passed or struck down, aligning with a particular ideology and standing for a certain platform.

Those who follow Christ cannot ignore issues of justice. We cannot turn a blind eye to suffering. We cannot allow people who are made in the image of God to be marginalized and exploited, especially if there is something we can do about it.

But, this is where the question arises: What can we do about it?

For some, a political solution makes the most sense. They rally around a particular party or politician hoping to bring about justice in that way.

For others, they are convinced that politics isn’t the best way to transform a culture or influence society. Instead of pursuing the political path, these people might instead seek to bring about a change at the grassroots level. This is often the slower approach to change, but in the long run, it is the most enduring one.

In the meantime, there are those from both sides who take the time to care for the broken, comfort the oppressed, and feed the hungry. This is how we should respond to the immediate needs of people who suffer injustice, long before we take the justice path or the political option, if we hope to alleviate the pain.

So, for someone like me who has abandoned the political option. It can sometimes be challenging to walk the line, so to speak, on issues of injustice.

There is still a need to critique the culture and to point out the contrasts between the glorious Kingdom of God and the pathetic kingdoms of the world.

For some, these critiques are interpreted as being political. And in some cases they may be right about that. But as long as we can critique the culture without taking sides, and without becoming nationalistic in the process, this critique is still valid.

Why? Because our main goal is to transform the culture from the inside out. One of the ways we do that is to point out how Jesus’ Kingdom is better and how He has a better plan to transform the world with preemptive love and proactive agape.

Many Christians take this too far, in my estimation. They not only want to speak out against injustice and point out the better way of Jesus, but they continue on to seek out political power and influence of their own. This, to me, is a mistake.

Why? Because the best way to change the world is through the Gospel, not through political influence.

Did the early church impact their culture? Yes, they most certainly did.

Did they do so by infiltrating the Roman government or political process? No, they did not.

And let’s keep in mind that they most certainly could have done so if that was their intention. There are numerous examples of Roman officials and civil magistrates who came to faith in Christ in the early church.

Instead of seeking to install Christians at the highest levels of power, they required every one of those new converts to resign their positions of authority in the Roman government and renounce political entanglements.

 "A military commander or civic magistrate must resign or be rejected. If a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected, for he has despised God." (Hippolytus of Rome)

Remember: Their own brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ were being arrested and put to death during this time. How tempting it must it have been for them to leverage their political influence to set those people free and to end the persecution of their faith?

Still, they remained true to their Lord’s example and refused the temptation to entangle their faith with politics. They were willing to obey Jesus and remain loyal to His Kingdom even to the death.

What’s more, they didn’t wait for the government to change the world. They got busy changing it themselves with the best weapon possible: The Gospel of Jesus.

The Gospel that had transformed their lives from the inside out was more than powerful enough to transform their neighbors, and their community, and yes, even their empire – one person at a time.

Untangling ourselves from politics doesn’t mean that we unplug ourselves from the culture around us. Far from it.

If anything, we must become more engaged with the culture – and more acquainted with those who are suffering at the hands of the Empire – so that we can administer the love of Christ and spread the virus of His Kingdom to those who are broken under the crushing weight of injustice.

We cannot transform the world by disengaging from the culture. Being salt and light involves getting our hands dirty. We must step into the fight. We must carry our cross and suffer with those who are suffering.

As my friend Jackie Pullinger once said, “The Gospel is always life for those who receive it and death for those who bring it.”

Our lives belong to the King. Let’s walk in the power of His resurrection and bring life and light to those who are in darkness.


NOW AVAILABLE: "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb" by Keith Giles on Amazon in Paperback, Kindle [ebook], and Audio formats.

Monday, June 05, 2017

REVIEW: Sinners In The Hands Of A Loving God

I've just finished reading Brian Zahnd's newest book, "Sinners In The Hands Of A Loving God" and it's breath-taking.

I was nearly wrapping up volume one of Greg Boyd's latest book, "Crucifixion of the Warrior God" when the book arrived in the mail.

Both Boyd and Zahnd are coming at the same ideas here, but from slightly different angles of approach. Where Boyd has taken a longer view and a more in-depth scholarly apologetic plan of attack, Zahnd opts for more of a practical, simplified and conversational tone.

Both of them are attempting to describe a Christ-centric hermeneutic or framework for understanding scripture, which is something I also did in my latest book, "Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb".

In fact, in chapter 3 of his book, Zahnd covers almost exactly the same territory as I did in chapter 2 of my book, namely the "Flat Bible vs Jesus-Centric" perspectives on scripture.

Honestly, I'm very grateful that my book came out a few months earlier than Zahnd's, otherwise people would claim that I ripped him off. [I know that no one is going to think that Zahnd took his cues from my book].

Still, the good news is that people like Zahnd are affirming this approach and helping to popularize the Jesus-Centered perspective. So, if the "Flat Bible vs Jesus-Centric" approach was challenging for you in my book, perhaps reading Zahnd's take on it might help you get a better grip on what this is all about.

For me, the book really took off on page 30. That's where the author begins to unpack his views on the differences between God as we see Him in the Old Testament and God as Jesus reveals Him in the New Testament:

"It seems obvious that we should accept that as Israel was in the process of receiving the revelation of Yahweh, some unavoidable assumptions were made. One of the assumptions was that Yahweh shared the violent attributes of other deities worshiped in the ancient near east. These assumptions were inevitable, but they were wrong. For example, the Torah assumed that Yahweh, like all the other gods, required ritual blood sacrifice, but eventually the psalmists and prophets take the sacred text beyond this earlier assumption." [page 30]

Finally, Zahnd concludes by saying:

"The Bible is not the perfect revelation of God; Jesus is. Jesus is the only perfect theology. Perfect theology is not a system of theology; perfect theology is a person. Perfect theology is not found in abstract thought; perfect theology is found in the Incarnation. Perfect theology is not a book; perfect theology is the life that Jesus lived. What the Bible does infallibly and inerrantly is point us to Jesus, just like John the Baptist did." [page 31]

Zahnd further develops his thesis around page 60 where he notes:

"Today, Moses and Elijah (the Law and the Prophets) do one thing: they point to Jesus! I'm a Christian, not a Biblicist. The Bible is subordinate to Christ...The final testimony of Moses and Elijah is to recede into the background so that Jesus stands alone as the full and true Word of God. Jesus is what God has to say! 

"The Bible is the written word of God that bears witness to the living Word of God. God did not become a book, but God did become a human being. The Incarnation is not the creation of the canon of Scripture, but the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible is not perfect; parts are now obsolete. Surely you admit this. Do you ever worry about violating the biblical prohibition found in Leviticus 19:19 "Nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials"? Of course not. You understand that part of the Bible to be obsolete as a contemporary command. But nothing about the risen Christ is obsolete. Christ alone is the perfection of God." [Page 60-61]

Zahnd also covers similar territory in this book as N.T. Wright does in his latest book regarding the crucifixion and what is - and what isn't - happening on the cross. Wright's book, "The Day The Revolution Began" is excellent, but it takes a long time to set up the topic and work its way through the various texts.

But, Zahnd takes a more logical and practical approach to those same ideas and does more in one chapter than Wright accomplishes in an entire book. [Not that Wright's book isn't wonderful, but Zahnd's ability to cut to the chase and communicate the truth in a few words is priceless].

For me, one of the truly great chapters of the book is chapter 7 where he explains how to understand the book of Revelation. Honestly, if all you did was buy this book and read that chapter, you'd have your money's worth. I have honestly never read anything that so clearly and simply explained the right way to approach Revelation before. It's amazing. Really, amazing.

Overall, "Sinners In The Hands Of A Loving God" goes a long way towards clarifying what a truly Jesus-Centered approach to scripture looks like, in contrast to the usual "Flat Bible" perspective that has plagued the Church for too long now.

I'm excited to read books like this one, and others mentioned here, that provide a refreshing view of Jesus as the full revelation of God.

For many, this book will be a huge stretch. I understand that. For some, the ideas in this book will be strange, and possibly even scandalous. But keep in mind that Jesus was scandalous in his day, and that the Gospel is scandalous and extremely controversial.

If Jesus version of the Kingdom was so radical and dangerous, why is our faith so safe and predictable?

Christians today need to rediscover the dangerous Gospel and the unsafe Jesus. Brian Zahnd puts Him on full display in this book. It's a glorious and beautiful thing.

I highly recommend you pick up this book and rediscover a more dangerous faith and a more radical Jesus.

"Sinners In The Hands Of A Loving God" by Brian Zahnd releases August, 2017. Pre-order here on Amazon:

FULL DISCLOSURE: The author and his publisher provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Only those who see God's face can live.

In Exodus 33:20, Moses tells us that no one can see God's face and live.

But in the Gospel of John we learn that "no one has ever seen God at any time." [Jn 1:18]

No one, that is, except Jesus.

Jesus is the "exact representation of God's nature" [Heb. 1:3]

In Jesus "the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form" [Col. 2:9]
Jesus says that "if you have seen me, you have seen the Father." [Jn. 14:9]

And the Apostle Paul tells us that "in the face of Christ" God has "shone in our hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." [2 Cor. 4:7]

So, where Moses and the Old Testament proclaims that no one can see God and live, Jesus and the New Testament scriptures reveal to us that is only those who have seen the face of God [in Christ] who really have life.

Have you seen the face of God and lived?

If you have seen Christ, then you have seen the face of God.
"This is eternal life, that they may know...the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." - Jesus [Jn. 17:3]

Now, keep your eyes on Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face.

He has promised to stay with you, and to never leave you.
You will never know another moment of time, or take another breath, without Him.

His love endures forever.

Look into the face of God...and live.