Monday, December 25, 2006


Discovery by Keith Giles

My friend Paul was sharing with me a story about a recent trip to the mountains where he had an odd spiritual experience. It all started while walking with some of his friends along mountain trails on their way to an overnight camp out. As he was crossing over a stream along the way he randomly picked up a rock to take along with him, something he did quite often on treks such as this one.

It wasn't a particularly interesting or colorful rock. He really had no specific motive for picking it up initially other than that it was black and it felt good in his hands. Almost reflexively he pulled the rock from the cold water, dried it on his shirt, and placed it in his pants pocket as they continued up out of the stream and up along a newfound trail.

As the group of friends made their way up the mountain they happened to pass an older gentleman coming down the same trail. After a brief bit of friendly chit-chat one of Paul's friends asked the older man if he had any words of wisdom for their group.

"You mean, like a mantra or something?" the old man asked. "Yeah, something like that," Paul's friend said.

The older gentleman took a short moment to reflect and then he said, "I’ve got just two words for you," he said. "The first is 'Immanuel', and the second one is 'Maranatha'". The group nodded their heads and smiled, and after a bit more brief chit-chat the two groups parted. However the conversation in Paul's group shifted to the words the older gentleman had shared with them and what they could possibly mean.

Eventually the group arrived at the cabin where they had planned to spend the evening. One of the women in the group asked Paul if he had ever prayed before. He said that he sometimes meditated in the mornings, but had really never prayed before. Something about the interaction with the old man made him feel like he should start to pray, or at least to try, the next time he was enjoying his morning meditation.

That very next morning, Paul woke up and went about his usual routine of meditation. He began to think about what had happened the previous day, and did his best to pray about those words and what meaning, if any, they might have for him. He was also holding on to the rock he had found in the stream the day before. The rock that he had selected at random and placed almost absently into his pocket was nestled into the palm of his right hand as he sat, eyes closed, on the floor.

Suddenly Paul felt the urge to open his hand to look closer at the rock. As he opened his hand and looked at it closer he almost did a double-take. There, clearly and naturally formed across one side of the stone was an unmistakable form of a cross.

Paul sat silently and looked at the rock. He wondered now even more about the meaning of the events of the previous day.

Sitting in my living room, telling me this story, Paul pulled out the rock and handed it to me. I was amazed at his story, and even more amazed to actually hold this rock in my hands. The shape of the cross was unmistakable, but clearly not man-made at all. The shape had been formed along the surface eons ago when the rock was first formed, and etched by the constant erosion of the stream it had been pulled from only weeks earlier. Now it was in my hand and I could easily imagine what Paul must have felt when he first opened his hand and realized the significance of the stone and the image that marked it.

I was reminded of the Proverb that says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of Kings to search it out." (Proverbs 25:2) Paul and I discussed the method that Jesus used to teach people about the Kingdom of God during his ministry on Earth, how he told stories that made people wonder and how he never seemed to answer a question unless it was with a question of his own.

Paul had been given a riddle of sorts and now had the privilege to work out what it all meant. Paul shared with me that, so far, all he knew for certain was that he was supposed to tell his story to people, and not just anyone, but people who would be likely to appreciate it. I felt honored to hold this stone in my hand and to have heard Paul's amazing story. It was with some reluctance that I handed it back to him.

In his search for the meaning of his experience, Paul had printed out the Wikipedia definitions of the words "Immanuel" and "Maranatha" and he unfolded the papers and passed them to me. He and I talked about these words and I expressed to him my sincere curiosity regarding his journey to discover the meaning of this rock that had found him in the stream. In many ways I envied my friend Paul for his opportunity to learn the meaning of this mysterious rock and the two corresponding words left to him by a stranger on the side of a mountain.

As far as I could see things, Paul had been given the words, "Immanuel" (which means 'God with us') and "Maranatha" (which means 'He has come'). He had been given a rock with a very obvious cross on it to accentuate those two words. A rock which he would not have picked up had they crossed the stream a few feet to the right or to the left, and which he admits he might not have picked up at all considering the randomness of his choice of stones there in the stream. He was also, finally, encouraged to pray and that next morning all of these various elements converged together to spark his imagination and his journey of discovery regarding the meaning of the message.

This is why Jesus loved to use parables to teach his disciples, so that when the meaning was finally discovered, the person would own the truth and treasure the revelation. When someone gives you the answer you don't value the information as much. When you're handed the keys you lose the thrill of the chase and the joy of discovery.

I pray that even more people will discover a stone in the stream or cross paths with wise old men bearing clues to the journey of life. We all need more questions to work out with fear and trembling. We all need to seek the Truth. Maybe the clues are already all around us? Maybe we're just not paying enough attention?

All creation cries out and pours forth speech, day and night. Sometimes even the rocks cry out.

"Conversatio Morem!"

NEARLY DONE: The year is nearly done. Only a few more weeks left of the 2006 edition of [SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND]. When I started this a year ago it was only about thirty people. Now it's about 100. That's amazing to me. Thanks to everyone for reading and for helping to spread the word to others about this little e-newsletter.

THE MISSION- YEAR ONE: Well, it's "almost" a year old. We started in January and our first twelve months have been so amazing. I've never experienced anything in my Christian life like this. The sense of "Koinonia" has never been more than a vague spiritual concept to me. Now it's a weekly reality. The presence of the Holy Spirit among us, the application of God's Word to our daily life, the laughter, the tears, and of course, the food! Wow. I should've done this a long time ago!

MERRY CHRISTMAS: I for one have come to the final conclusion that from now on I only want my Christmastime to be about giving to others and blessing people in need. Going forward I will intentionally spend my Christmas season, and the day itself, sharing and giving to others all that I can. I'm so done with the commercialism and the accumulation of meaningless things. It's time to give.


Friday, December 22, 2006


***NOTE: I really did write this week's article on Tuesday night. It's a great story about a rock that found a friend of mine, but in order to make it extra special, I'm holding off on that one until I can add something to it that will really make it worth the wait. (You'll see when it finally comes to your inbox). Until then, please enjoy the brand-new Christmas article below.

GIVE by Keith Giles

Several years ago I found myself out of work and standing in food lines at our church pantry to get Groceries for my family. It was the most difficult test of faith in my life up to that point. Honestly though, I wouldn't change a thing if I could because it was during that year and a half of testing that I discovered that God really did see me and love me and that He was active in my life. I also learned that God is more concerned about who I am than He is about what I do for a living.

In fact, much of what I learned during that time transcends any sort of knowledge you could ever glean from a book or a sermon. There are certain spiritual truths that can only be experienced. They must be "caught" and not "taught".

Out of this ordeal I developed a heart for others, especially those who are poor and in financial distress. Over the years God has continued to create a heart of compassion in me, sometimes in ways I have not been aware of until much later.

Just in the last few weeks many of us from our Mission House Church have had many opportunities to serve people in need around us. Both as a group and as individuals. I'm honestly so proud of each of our members for the many ways they've taken the time to share the love and compassion of Jesus with the least and the lost here in our community.

Some in our group have really stepped outside their comfort zones and radically shared the love of Jesus. One woman, a single Mom trying to take care of her little daughter, gave a ride to a prostitute who was looking for a ride home one cold night. She took the time to tell her that everyone needs to be forgiven and that none of us are really "good". Another Mom took a blanket with her as she ran her errands this week because she knew that God wanted her to give it to someone who was cold and on the streets this Christmas. Her daughter spotted a homeless veteran who was in a wheelchair and missing a leg. They were able to bless him in a very practical way.

As a group, we've had the honor of purchasing gifts for a family in need and to take a collection for a homeless man who needed a place to stay this week.

Honestly, I am so thankful to God that our vision to start a house church with a heart for the poor and an open hand for those in need has been fulfilled. God has allowed many of us in this group to use our tithe to help people who are really in need. For me, this is so much more significant, and Biblical, than using our offerings for new carpet and sound systems and staff luncheons.

Biblically, the Church never took an offering for itself. It always gave to help and serve the poor, the widow, the orphan and those who were in need.

When you can connect your offering directly to people who need real help; when you can sincerely make a difference in someone's life by your giving; there is meaning and spiritual weight that just doesn't compare to dropping a check into the plate as it passes by. Most are unaware of where their gift or their tithe really goes, and if they really could see where most of it went they might think twice about giving as much the next time.

Today I went over to the motel and paid for one week at the motel for Robert, the elderly homeless man who our offering had been taken for last night. He and I talked about his health and about his options for the future. He was honestly moved by our willingness to help him, even though most in our group had never met him before.

As I prayed with Robert, I was overwhelmed with the sense of the presence of God and His heart for the poor and the forgotten. God is close to those in pain. He is near to those in need. He cares for those who are overlooked and forgotten in our community; the homeless veteran, the prostitute, the lonely motel manager estranged from his family, and the single Mom trying to purchase Christmas gifts for her children, and still buy groceries for the week.

I am reminded of the Christmas, several years ago, when a local church had adopted our family for the Holidays. I was out of work and doing temporary work, which was barely enough to cover our rent an a few groceries. That year we had so many boxes of presents around our little tree that you could almost not see the tree itself. I remember that my sons received present after present, mostly from these kind people, and how we also had received hundreds of dollars in gift cards to help us purchase groceries and clothes and gasoline for the uncertain months ahead.
It was the best Christmas we'd ever had, and it was all because of the goodness of God..and His people.

As I was leaving the motel today I told Pete, the manager of the motel, that as far as I was concerned, helping people like Robert was my Christmas present to myself. In fact, I believe that from now on I really don't want to bother with buying more "stuff" for my family (we already have more than we can use), but instead I'd really like to spend Christmas focusing on helping people like the families at the motel, and people sleeping on the street. You know, people who really need all the things that we enjoy in abundance and take for granted?

Over the years, our family has adopted a saying of sorts that we usually utter when we pray together as a family. It goes something like this; "Thank you Lord for making us rich in all the things that matter...and a lot of other stuff that doesn't. We have all that we need for today, an even more on top of that." This has helped us gain perspective on how blessed we really are.

"Freely you have received, freely give." -JESUS (Matthew 10:8)

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


DOUBT by Keith Giles

As I've taken a hard look at Christianity in America over the last few years, one thing I find most disturbing is how easy Grace has replaced the clear teaching of Jesus to count the cost of following after Him.

Jesus is our blue-print for life in the Kingdom of God. It's a life that starts here and now, and continues each and every day that we live and breathe on this planet. It involves living today as if God were on the throne of this Earth ruling it as King. We don't have to wait until that day comes, we are invited to live under His rule and reign today. Jesus said we cannot enter the Kingdom and follow Him unless we daily die to ourselves and obey His teaching. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus came and died to preach and communicate. There is no other Gospel in the Scripture. The Gospel of Jesus is this Gospel of the Kingdom.

Grace is certainly part of the process. Without Grace we could not hope to daily surrender our lives and submit to God's will for our lives in favor of our own desire. But Grace does not cancel out our daily surrender to Jesus as our Lord. The phrase "Jesus is Lord" is powerless unless we actually live it out in our lives every day. Without this it's simply a pointless bumper sticker slogan.

Simply put, the Gospel of the Kingdom has been drowned out by the tele-vangelical version of the Gospel that says, "Repeat this prayer after me and you can go to heaven when you die".

A by-product of this easy-believism is the cheapening of the decision to follow Jesus with your whole life. Instead the decision is treated so lightly that I've seen Christians urge total strangers they've only just met seconds earlier to pray and ask Jesus into their heart so they can go to heaven when they die. It's almost as if they believe that this magic prayer will take anyone to heaven if they say it twice and click their heels together.

Instead, I would urge us who follow Jesus to allow people around us to get to know Jesus first, and maybe then they can make an informed decision about whether or not to surrender their life to follow after Him.

There's a great story about the great evangelist Charles Finney who would regularly tell his converts that they were not truly converted to Christ. Imagine that. A famous evangelist urging his newly converted to doubt their faith in Christ.

The story goes that he would cast doubt upon their faith in Christ and send them away saying, "I don't think you really are a follower of Jesus yet". After a few weeks the person would invariably return and declare that they were now a true follower of Jesus. Finney would then find a reason to doubt them once more and send them on their way again. Eventually the person would return, declaring with fire in their eyes that they "knew" they were a follower of Jesus. When Finney could no longer dissuade them he would let them go with a nod, "You might actually be a follower of Jesus after all".

If anything, Finney employed doubt to test the faith of those who claimed too eagerly to be genuine disciples of Christ. Whether or not you agree with Finney's tactics, please don’t treat the decision to follow Jesus too lightly. These days we are far too eager to ask a total stranger to pray on the spot to receive Jesus, before they’ve even really understood who He is or what such a decision might mean to their life.

I believe the decision to follow Jesus is more like a commitment to enter into a life-long marriage and less like the decision to rent a movie. We would never counsel someone to go into a marriage quickly, and yet we are sometimes over-eager when it comes to pushing people to enter into an eternal relationship with Jesus.

Let people have a chance to get to know Jesus before you push them into praying to receive forgiveness and follow Him. They need to know who He is first.

Can you imagine a total stranger coming up to you on the street and leading the conversation in such a way that you felt compelled to marry his daughter as fast as possible? Who is this guy? What is his daughter like? Why is he so eager to get her married off? All of these questions would be flashing into your brain as this stranger tried to convince you that all you had to do was to repeat the vows after him and everything would work itself out later. If you were wise you would flee from that person as fast as possible. Yet, this is almost exactly the sort of witnessing and evangelism that many Christians practice, or at least visualize, when it comes to reaching others for Christ.

Jesus does not force Himself upon us. Do not force Jesus onto those who do not know Him yet or who are not ready to make this life-changing, eternal decision.

Better yet, try living a life that bears witness to the compassion and humility of Jesus each and every day. Maybe then people will actually ask us why we live this way and what it was that transformed us into such patient, compassionate, loving people. Then we can make sure we are prepared to give to every man an answer, a reason for the hope that lies within.

But first, let's live a life that provokes the question rather than throwing around the answers to questions that no one is really asking.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


WAIT by Keith Giles

At the end of June I walked away from a job that I really loved. It wasn't something I wanted to do, but the reality was that this little non-profit ministry I cared so much about was just not able to sustain the financial needs of my family.

My departure was amicable, but I had no immediate opportunities in front of me at the time. I began doing temporary work through an employment agency while I sent off resumes and interviewed for several jobs. A few looked promising, a few were obviously not meant for me, but as the weeks turned into months I began to wonder how long this would take.

It's not as if I'm a stranger to this sort of thing, really. A few years ago I was laid off from a job I loved. At that time I was working in the Christian Music Industry and I had developed many professional relationships with some key people in the business. I was pretty sure I'd have no trouble finding work. But a year and a half later I was still doing temporary work.

During that first marathon season where I endured financial hardship and underwent a crisis of faith, I can honestly say that God revealed Himself to me and to my family in ways I could never have expected.

If you had asked me before that long season if I knew that God loved me, I would have answered "Yes". But after an entire year and a half of eating out of God's hand, and learning the true meaning of "Daily Bread", I could honestly answer that same question in ways that I could never have before.

There was one day when my wife poured the last of the milk from the carton, cracked the last egg in the pan to scramble eggs and used the last paper towel roll to clean up a spill at breakfast. We knew there was no money in the bank to purchase these items, but we had two little sons to provide for and bills to pay in a matter of days.

About an hour later there was a knock on our door. It was a dear friend of ours who "just happened" to drop by and bring us a goody basket. Inside the basket were eggs, milk and paper towels. There was also a box of Wheat Thins. The night before I had made an off-hand comment to my wife that it would be nice to have some Wheat Thins because I hadn't eaten any in years.

I just kept staring at that box of Wheat Thins and realized that God had heard me. He took my little remark about a stupid box of crackers and had provided it for me, just because He loved me.

I could tell a dozen or more stories like that. Those months of learning to depend on God for daily bread were trying, and difficult, and yet they were some of the sweetest I have ever had with The Lord. I wouldn't go back and change those moments even if I could.

About two months ago, I was awakened at around 4:30am. That's usually my cue to get up and go into the den to pray and spend time with The Lord. So, I found myself on my knees in the dark, praying about another new job, once more.

As soon as I woke up there was a strange thought in my head that went something like, "What if it takes a long time for the door to open?"

I realized that God could sneeze and I could have twenty amazing job offers that same day. So...why didn't He? Why was He making this take so long, again?

I started to rattle off a long list of "Why's" to Him. Why had He allowed us to have a miscarriage last July? Why had He allowed us to go through such financial misery for over a year? Why had He allowed us to endure the pain of leaving our church? Why had He shut down our ministry to the elderly in the local senior home? Why had He caused us to move out of our previous house? Why was He putting us through another long wait for a new job?


After I made my list of complaints I realized that, in spite of that long list of hardships, the reality of it was that our family had been great. We had not felt as much of the pain of all of that as you might expect. God had been faithful to us as we endured all of those much so that many of them hardly seemed like real hardship in retrospect. Of course, some things were harder than others, and there had been some real pain and real tears as well. Yet, over all, God had seen us through it. We were whole. We were taken care of.

In fact, the crazy thing was our family had more peace during this time of waiting than we had when I was working for the non-profit ministry I was at before. All because of God's amazing faithfulness to provide all of our needs.

I began to pray and to tell The Lord that, if it did take a long time for us to find a new job, that I would be ok with that. I asked Him to go with us. Like the Children of Israel, I asked Him for the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day. I asked Him for daily "Manna" and I asked Him to help us take everything one day at a time.

As I was praying this, I started to get cold so I reached out and took a little blanket that Wendy and I were given on our wedding day. It's embroidered with the entire text of 1 Corinthians 13. You know, the "Love" chapter?

As I wrapped it around my legs to keep myself warm I suddenly opened my eyes. There, right in front of me were the words, "Love is Patient".

I got the hint.

As of today, the word for our family is still "Wait". I have several job possibilities, but even if one of those works out we will most likely have to wait until January of 2007 before one of them actually hires me.

So...we wait.

I have been so amazed, month after month, as God has managed to pay our rent and cover our bills even though on paper I'm bringing home about half of what I was earning before.

God is so good.

"Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will rise up on wings as eagles"- Isaiah 40:31

IF YOU WANT TO REPLY TO THIS EMAIL, DON'T HIT THE "REPLY" BUTTON BECAUSE I WILL NOT GET IT! Instead, email me directly at: elysiansky (at) Hotmail (dot) com
REBELLION OF THOUGHT- My great friend, Kent Williamson, is a film-maker and the founder of Paladin Pictures. His latest work is a documentary that takes a hard look at the modern Church in America. It also features a song from my friend's "West of Verona" on the soundtrack. Check out the details here:

How's that for a title? Well, I think it's going to be my next series over at, starting in January 2007. The series will take one of the top 10 things every Christian should know...but probably doesn't...and discuss it in detail. I think I could probably make the list 20 items..but maybe I'll save that for the inevitable print version.

VARIOUS- I've got a few "odds and ends" items I need to clean out of my head before the end of this year. Maybe I'll save one of my final [SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] entries of 2006 to play "catch up" on these sundry bits of ephemera...hmm...


Wednesday, November 29, 2006


CHANGE by Keith Giles

It's one of the most terrifying things I've ever read in my life before. What makes it so frightening is the idea that it's talking about me.

If you're someone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus, then the truth is you should be feel the same way I do because it's also talking about your future too.

I'm talking about Matthew chapter 25 where Jesus gives us a snapshot into the future. He explains that, in the end, all those who call themselves followers of Jesus will be gathered into the same place together.

You will be standing there. I will be there too.

If there was a DVD edition of Matthew 25 you and I could freeze the wide shot and begin looking for our faces in the crowd.

There! You're just behind the guy with the black ponytail. Oh, there I am, next to the skinny guy with the van dyke. That's me.

When we really consider that our presence in this passage is an actual point in time, it makes the passage all the more difficult to read.

Maybe you've already read this passage before? Maybe not. Maybe you understand the sobering reality of the words spoken by Jesus here, and maybe you have already considered the consequences.

I wish there was a way for me to adaquately communicate the seriousness of Matthew 25 to everyone, but perhaps it's more powerful if each person simply reads it for themselves?

At any rate, Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that there will come a day when you will be standing in a large place with everyone else who has ever called themselves a follower of Jesus. Or more specifically, with everyone who has ever called Jesus "Lord".

You'll be there one day, in that great assembly. You'll cheer when Jesus makes His entrance. You'll feel the goosebumps. You'll bend your knees and weep. You will want to pinch yourself because you'll hardly believe that you're the presence of Jesus, here at the end of time.

Then Jesus will stand up in front of everyone and he will ask some of the assembly to move to the right side of the room, and others he will ask to move to the left side. We'll all shuffle around wherever he asks us to move, of course, perhaps so taken in the moment that we'll not realize what exactly is taking place.

Then Jesus will ask those on the left side why they never gave him anything to drink when he was thirsty. He will ask them, with tears in his eyes, why they didn't feed him when he was hungry. The room will grow quiet. Finally someone will respond by asking him what he's referring to exactly.

That's when Jesus will explain to them that whatever they did for the least of those in the life they had on Earth, they were doing it to him also.

It makes me wonder, what will my response be?

We can ask ourselves this same question right now. We don't have to wait for Jesus to ask us at the Great Judgement, thankfully. I think that's the whole point of Jesus giving us a sneak preview of this moment. So that we can be prepared to give an answer that will please Him when the time comes.

If you're not in the habit of caring for people who walk into your path on a regular basis, then you already know what your answer will be to Jesus on that day. "I'm so busy, Lord" or "Those people should have gotten a job", or "If only I had known it was you, Jesus".

But of course, we already DO know that don't we? That is the whole point of Matthew 25. We get to have a window on the future so that we can begin to live now in a way that will reflect the Truth on that final Day.

You will be standing there one day. You really will. I will too.

What will your response to Jesus be when He asks you that question?

Honestly, I don't want to motivate anyone to start caring for the poor out of a sense of guilt or coercion. If nothing else, sit down and read Matthew 25 all by yourself. See what you think it is saying to you. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you on this subject.

What I find fascinating about Matthew 25 is the fact that those who do care for the poor are just as unaware of the significance of their actions as those who failed to care for the poor. They answer, "When did we see you naked and clothe you? When did we see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?"

Those who sincerely loved Jesus and who cared for the poor in their life on Earth did so because they were incapable of walking past someone who was hungry without doing something about it. It was almost a natural reaction for them, it wasn't a task to be completed or a ticket out of condemnation. Their acts of compassion were almost unconsciously done out of a heart of love for others.

"Swimming won't make you a fish, but if you are a fish you will swim"

Because of the fact that Jesus had really changed their hearts and made them a new creation, they found it impossible to walk past a fellow human being in need and turn the other way.

If anything, what's most necessary is to become transformed from within. You and I need Jesus to change us into the sort of people who love others more than we love ourselves. We need to become people who have a heart like His heart.

Only Jesus can change us into people like this. It takes a miracle, and lucky for us, Jesus is in the Miracle Business.

"Conversatio Morem!"
WEST OF VERONA- My good buddy John Wahrmund and his wife Lisa are one half of the four-person alternative band, "West of Verona". Currently they are recording a brand new 9-song Cd. You must hear them!

John has recorded with guys like JJ Plasencio from "Sixpence None The Richer", Andy Prickett from "The Prayer Chain" and his first cd with previous band "Elysian Skies" was mixed by the amazing Gene Eugene (formerly of "Adam Again"). John and his wife Lisa have a very cool "Sixpence" vibe going on. Check'em out!

Find out more about the band here:

and here:

BOOK UPDATE- I've finished the entire first draft of "The Power Of Weakness" and now the nitty gritty re-writes begin. Ugh!
I'm a lot further along on the book version of "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" with additional material not published online at and/or CMA Resources. My goal was to finish writing at least one book by the end of this year and I think I've just about done that...actually twice! So now 2007 will be the year that I focus on publishing at least one book, if not two. Details soon...

JOB FRONT- Well, I'll find out about both jobs sometime next week. Hopefully I'll be gainfully employed sometime before January 1st, 2007. Until then I'm still doing temporary work and "loving it". Thanks again to everyone who has been keeping us in prayer!
Bless you all!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


DISCLAIMER: Please read the following article VERY CAREFULLY before you do anything at all. There is more going on here than meets the eye. You have been forewarned. - kg

by Keith Giles

As most of us are aware, there is a new Congress in session at the moment. With this new influx of Congressmen and Senators will no doubt come a changing of the guard that will require us as Christians to be vigilant as never before.

This is why today's [SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] is so critical for each of us. I'm tempted to ask everyone one of you to read what I write here and to forward this to EVERYONE IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK right away. (Especially if you "really" love Jesus).

But, what I'm about to tell you is SO ALARMING, it could seriously threaten Church in America forever.

There is new legislation in motion, at the earliest possible stage, which I need to let everyone know about now before it gets out of our control.

First, many of you are already aware that there are forces out there that threaten to take away the non-profit status of Christian Churches in America whenever messages of a political nature are delivered from the pulpit. As desperate as this is, there is a new development brewing now that is even worse.

There are people who want to propose legislation that would challenge the non-profit status of any Christian Church simply based on whether or not that Church actually gives a significant percentage of its funds back to the community, as most other "non-religious" non-profits are required to do.

WHAT THIS MEANS is that your church could be in danger of losing its non-profit status simply because none of the tithe money goes to help out those poor families who live around the community. EVEN IF THEY DON'T ATTEND YOUR CHURCH!

Of course, there are plenty of churches in America that do care for the poor in their community. They pass out free groceries, they provide free oil changes for single Moms, they host after-school programs for kids in the area at no-charge, etc. Churches who are already "giving back" to the community in this way and serving others the way Jesus would would have NOTHING TO FEAR!

However, if a church in the community were to spend 70%, 80%, or even 99% of its tithe on itself, it would be in danger of losing that non-profit status and would have to pay taxes JUST LIKE ALL OTHER LARGE CORPORATIONS.

This means that a church spending most of the tithe for salaries, or a new building, or the new flat-screen plasma televisions for the announcements in the nursery, or the Starbucks Coffee bar at the back of the Church, or the new carpet, etc., would have to justify their non-profit status on the basis of whether or not they were actually performing any actual "service" to the poor around them. If they couldn't demonstrate a tangible connection between their church and the community around them, their non-profit status would be revoked forever!

REGARDLESS OF THE FACT that Matthew 25 suggests that Jesus takes our concern for the outcast seriously, this attack on the non-profit status of our big, fat American churches is just NOT FAIR!

We've earned the right to collect as many hundreds of thousands of dollars as we like in the name of Jesus and it should be totally up to us how we spend that money. Especially if it's for our own needs, wants and desires.

Just because we're not really involved in the needs of the poor around us, the Church SHOULDN'T BE PUNISHED IN THIS WAY.

Regardless of the fact that the Church in America HAS THE POWER and the ECONOMIC RESOURCES necessary provide affordable housing, long-term community development, and primary health care to everyone who needs it, the US Government should NOT be the one to force this upon us through legal means. That should be left up to a Higher Power.

Even though Universal primary education would cost $8 billion a year, which is about half of what parents in the US spend annually on toys for their children, this has nothing to do with those of us who are called by the name of the One who humbled Himself and surrendered His life to demonstrate the compassion of God to the World, and especially to the least and the lost.

So, if you want to protect your church from this kind of judgement, I urge you to write to your pastors, your elders, your deacons and your church leaders and let them know how you feel about this very serious issue that faces the modern Church in America.

We, the Church in America, are dangerously close to the SIN OF SODOM!

Do you know what the Sin of Sodom is? Read Ezekiel 16: 49. (HINT: It's not what you think).

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

Obviously, the issue facing the Church in America today is WAY MORE SERIOUS THAN SIMPLY OUR NON-PROFIT STATUS! If the Church were to rise up and spend their money this way, THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME THING, and yes, a lot of people would probably stop calling us hypocrites and maybe they'd take us seriously when we tell them that Jesus loves them, because we've demonstrated that just maybe we love them too.

As you may have guessed, this legislation IS TOTALLY FICITIOUS! I have made up the entire thing with the help of my good friend Jarred Rowland who first suggested the concept to me.

I couldn't resist mimicking the style of those alarmist Christian email messages we all get forwarded telling us that we must send it on to everyone we have ever known in order to prove our love for Jesus. Please, also forgive me for all the CAPITAL LETTERS I USED!

Seriously, I think if my friend Jarred were to introduce a Bill like this one to our Congress it might put a fire under our churches to wake up and realize that their Bibles are full of commands to care for the outcast, the poor, and the needy who are all around them. If nothing else, it would create an amazing open dialog in the media between the leaders of the Church, the members of the community, and the man on the street about issues of compassion, Christian charity, and the calling of Jesus to care for the poor as we would care for Him. (see Matthew 25)

Until that legislation comes to pass, I will have to resort to stunts like this to try to wake people up and realize that God's heart is for the poor and that He has taken this issue very seriously.

The truth is, the idea of their church losing its non-profit status is more likely to spur Christians to action than the fact that there are thousands of homeless, and poverty-stricken human beings suffering a few blocks from their front door.

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


INSTEAD- email me directly at: elysiansky (at) hotmail (dot) com *remove the spaces, etc.

Go to and read my latest mini-article about the scriptural picture of pastor versus the cultural one we've all held so dear. If today's [SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] article didn't make you mad, then I think you'll probably love it.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! On 12/21/06 this e-newsletter will be ONE YEAR OLD. WEE!! Thanks for making it so successful. So far we're just a hair under one hundred subscribers. Hopefully this week's article doesn't drive that number lower...but we'll see.


JOB TRAIL - The wheels they grind so slowly...but they do grind. I have had several great interviews of late. Hopefully I'll be employed before Christmas. Details as they come. Thanks again for all of you who are praying for me.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006


By Keith Giles

I have learned something important about myself in the process of leading a house church that has taken me by surprise.

Over the last few years of my life I have become fascinated by the teaching style of Jesus. He told stories, he provoked thought, he invited questions and more often than not he allowed questions to go unanswered.

In my own personal life I have prayed that God would help me to be more of a teacher like Jesus who is not afraid of questions and who is able to provoke people to thought, to change and to action by his stories and by the way he allows people to figure things out for themselves without throwing out easy answers to everyone.

That's the goal. The reality is something else altogether.

I have an old poster that I took off the wall in the Art Department where I went to college. It says, "Well-formed questions are more useful than well-formed answers". I love that poster. I love the radical notion that sometimes questions are more useful than answers.

In the scriptures, Jesus was asked something like forty three questions and he only actually answered two of those questions. The others he either answered with a question of his own, or he outright refused to give an answer at all. I love that about Jesus. He was not focused so much on the answers, but he was interested mostly in helping people to think things out for themselves.

I am learning that, as much as I value this quality, I am not comfortable with it in everyday practice.

One of the things that frustrates me most about the modern Christian subculture in America is our fixation with providing answers. I hate that we have tried to reduce the Gospel into a sound bite, thus removing from it the true power it has to transform us. I hate that we often employ answer-based evangelism whether or not the people being evangelized have ever asked us the questions. I long to see more question-based forms of evangelism and communication come out of the Church and this is mostly because it brings our own need to live out the Gospel message into the light and the conversation.

Still, what I have learned about myself through our house church is that I personally am terrified of questions in a group setting. The last few weeks God has pointed out to me my annoying habit of answering each and every question raised in our house church meeting. I realize that I do this mostly out of a sense of feeling uncomfortable that someone else might answer it incorrectly, or out of a desire to display my inherent wisdom and understanding of the passage of scripture or the topic at hand.

I need help.

Just a few weeks ago this scenario played out during one of our Thursday night gatherings and I share it with you now to illustrate what I mean.

We were having a wonderful dialog about the book of Job together. Someone pointed out, brilliantly I might add, that the entire point of the book of Job is found when Job utters to God, "My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen you". Although God did not appear to Job in bodily form, he had somehow "seen" God. How was that accomplished? By the sufferings he endured Job gained a powerful perspective of the fact that God is God and that Job is not. Without the suffering he endured, Job would only have "heard of" the Glory of God, but now due to the suffering, he could say he had really "seen" God's Glory. (Job 42:4-6)

At this moment, one of our members asked, "So then, is suffering the only way to see God?" If I could travel back in time, to that moment in my den, I would wrap a roll of duct tape around the mouth of the host...which is me.

What I wouldn't give to go back in time and, instead of answering that person's question for her, had turned to the group, or back to this person and asked another question like; "I don't know. What do you think?"

Wow. That would have been one very cool conversation. But it's a conversation that we will never have now because I took the opportunity to answer this volatile question all by myself.

I repent of that. I pray that I can learn from this and next time, when someone asks a question in our group like that, I will bounce it back to them and ask them what they think the answer is.

In theory I love the idea of allowing questions to breathe. I love the idea of welcoming input and dialog, even if there is the danger that someone will arrive at the wrong answer or get distracted by some misunderstanding. In reality, I am still learning to come to grips with the idea of a living question in my presence. I am still learning how to welcome such radical inquisition into my home without asking it to first submit to my so-called wisdom.

In fact, I've written articles in the past on this very topic. I've pointed out the importance of asking questions and I've criticized those in the Church who fear the question unnecessarily. Now the whole thing has come back to bite me in the butt. I suppose that's why the Word of God is sometimes referred to as a "two-edged sword".

I hope that one day I can find the inner resolve to allow questions to flourish, to breathe, to dance in my living room without being smothered by the big, fat answer I hold behind my back. I hope that God will teach me to welcome questions and to be more comfortable with allowing people to work things out for themselves.

More and more I am learning, through our house church experience, how to live out the values and the convictions I have within, in ways that I never could have in any other way.

I suppose that in the process of making disciples, we have to admit that we are also disciples who are in the process of being made.


NEW JOB: Still interviewing at the moment. One at UYWI in Marketing and two possible jobs at ROCKHarbor Church. Hopefully by the next [SUBVERSIVE UNDERGROUND] I will have a more complete answer as to what my next job might be.
Thanks again for all your prayers and support!

TED HAGGARD- Not much to say on this tragedy except to suggest we all lift up our brother in prayer, and to relate a quote made by a friend the other day as we were discussing this item. He remarked at how it was possible for someone who was so close to the Fountain to go and take a drink from the dirty mud holes on the street. It was such a vivid picture, and yet we are guilty of the same sin, perhaps in smaller ways, every single day. Let all our Fountains be found in Him, and may we guard our own hearts and minds to stay focused daily on Jesus, our only Hope.

NEXT TIME- I have an urgent issue that I need to share with everyone next week. It's a bit of a scoop on an upcoming political agenda that might soon enter the new congress in the form of bill of sorts that would target the Church in interesting ways. Can't wait to share this in detail next time.

Until then...



Monday, November 06, 2006


[subversive underground] PHARISEE ME by Keith Giles

A few weeks ago, my oldest son Dylan was sent to his room for talking back to his Mom. His reaction to being corrected for mistreating his younger brother David was to claim innocence and to act indignantly. He was sent to his room and told not to come back out until he could tell us what he had done that was wrong and was willing to ask for forgiveness.

After nearly twenty minutes alone in his room, he had not come back out to apologize and was still convinced that he had done nothing wrong.

If you are a parent you know this situation all too well, especially if you have more than one child in the home. Our household is no exception, however this particular situation had me thinking about what was really going on with my oldest son.

Dylan is almost eleven years old, but he's already started to act like a moody, misunderstood, dramatic teen-ager. Maybe I saw something of myself in him that particular Sunday morning?

My usual response to such obstinacy is immediate retaliation and swift punishment. I have little patience for this sort of behavior, especially since pridefulness is one of the qualities within myself that I hate most of all. However, this particular morning I decided to have mercy on my son, and to show him a little about how painful pride can be, even to yourself.

I went into my bedroom and pulled out a journal I had been keeping about a year ago. I try to keep a habit of writing down the things that God speaks to me, and the various ways that God leads our family through the challenges of life, in a regular journal. My specific hope is that, one day, my sons will read about my struggles and meandering walk of faith and take some courage for their own spiritual journey in life.

I pulled journal number two from off the shelf and began searching for an entry made about a year and a half ago. It was a detailed confession to God of my own prideful heart and it conveyed a lot of the pain that this realization created in my soul once I was aware of just how deep and sick my pride could go.

When I found it I marked the page and went in to see my son. Dylan was laying on his top bunk and facing the wall.

"Do you know what you did wrong, son?" I asked. "No," he said, "I don't know what was so wrong about what I said."

I stepped on the bottom bunk and leaned over the top rail to look at him in the eye. His face was a scowl. I realized just how much he looked like me in that moment and I felt sympathy for him.

"Dylan, do you know what you're real problem is?" He looked at me for a second and cocked his head, "No. What?"

"I think your problem is that I'm your Dad."

His eyebrows relaxed a little and he said, "What does that mean?"

"It means that your Dad has a big problem with pride and I think you've inherited that from me."

I held up the journal and asked, "Do you know what this is?"

"Is that my journal that you and Mom keep for me?"

"No, it's my journal from about a year ago. I've marked a page that I want you to read and then I want you to think about it. I want you to pray and ask God to show you if you have any pride in your own heart. If you want to come out after that and apologize to your Mom and to your brother let us know."

"Ok," he said, taking the journal out of my hand.

I left him alone to read my journal entry and went into the living room. After about ten minutes Dylan came in carrying my journal in one hand. He walked into the kitchen and gave his Mom a hug. "I'm sorry Mom," he said humbly. Wendy took him in her arms and let him know that all was forgiven. Then Dylan went over to his little brother and apologized for mistreating him. Then, at last, he turned to me and handed me my journal. "Thanks Dad," he said.

I held him for a little and told him that if he would pray and ask God to take away his prideful heart that God would do that for him. Together we said a short prayer together and then he ran off to play outside with his brother David.

Before I put the journal back on the shelf again, I flipped back to the entry and read it over again. It was a time when, totally out of the blue, God revealed to me what a Pharisee I was. I was reading "Renovation of the Heart" by Dallas Willard one evening and came across a quote from one of the Gospels where Jesus was rebuking the religious leaders of his day for being more concerned about what the people thought of them, about how they looked in the eyes of the congregation, than they were about the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Suddenly, in a split second, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the fact that, just a few days previous, I had been offended when a big-name evangelist had visited our church and how his message had been so widely celebrated by the people.

What bothered me, even angered me, about this was that I had preached this exact same message to this same church nearly a year before that. No one had applauded my great wisdom at the time. No one even seemed to notice that I had preached almost the exact same sermon an entire year before this famous evangelist did. It really burned me up inside, to be honest. I wrestled with how to handle my anger. I started thinking poorly of this evangelist, and of the congregation too.

Sitting there in my bed, leaning against my pillow, as I read the words of Jesus criticizing the Pharisees for their attention-craving attitudes about God's Word I felt the hot sting of conviction in my heart. Suddenly I could picture myself in the black robe of a Pharisee and I didn't like that image.

In that split-second of conviction, God showed me that instead of being thrilled that the people had finally heard His voice and responded to His message for them, I was more upset that I wasn't the one who got the credit for the message. If I were really concerned about the people, I would be happy for them. If I were really passionate about the message, I would be pleased that it had been received as God intended. Instead, I was angry and bitter and my feelings were hurt. Why? Because I cared more about who got the glory for the insight than I was about whether or not the people received the insight.

I remember the pain of that evening even now. Reading it again in the journal that day brought it all back to me and I had to cry out to God to help me to find the Pharisee in me so that together we might kill him.

What I realize more and more is that there really is a Pharisee in me. I catch glimpses of him now and again, and each time I do it causes me great pain because I can see how hideous my own sin really is to God. I know He loves me no matter what, and for that I am grateful. Still, the periodic reminders that I have yet to fully slay the Pharisee in me have proven painful. The Truth really does hurt.

I have to admit, the Pharisee in me still isn't quite dead yet. I have seen him lurking around a few times since that journal entry, and I suspect I will see him a few more times before I come to the end of my last journal entry. But the good thing is, God still loves me. He is still working on my heart. He will not leave me as I am, but He will one day, (Miracle of Miracles), mold me of all people into the image of His Son, Jesus.

The important thing for my family is that I come to terms with the fact that I haven't got it all figured out yet. My sons need a Father who will remember that he is also in process and be willing to humble himself so that they can see that they are not alone in the struggle to overcome the flesh and to walk in the Spirit.

God help me to be more like Jesus so that my sons can do the same.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! Yes, on Thursday, November 9th I will become a man. I will be forty years old and I will enter middle-age. Ugh!

NEW JOB? Maybe two new jobs? We'll see...I've got to turn in both applications this week (to the same place) and if I get either job I can promise you there will be some raise eyebrows when I announce the job and who I am working for. Trust me though, if this works out it will be totally God's hand on me and nothing more.

IF YOU WANT TO REPLY TO THIS EMAIL, DON'T HIT THE "REPLY" BUTTON BECAUSE I WILL NOT GET IT! Instead, email me directly at: elysiansky (at) Hotmail (dot) com


Tuesday, October 31, 2006


**My previous newsletter prompted a bit of back and forth discussion between myself and a few other subscribers about just what I was trying to communicate. This is usually an indication that I need to write a follow-up article to further explain what I intended to communicate, and also to clarify what I did not intend to communicate.


What does Jesus mean when he says, "…whoever believes in (me) will not perish but have eternal life"? Is he talking about doctrine and theology? I doubt it. Specifically because, when he spoke these words, the New Testament had not been written yet, in fact, it was being lived out as he spoke these words, and this is my point. I believe that what Jesus was trying to communicate in John 3:16 is the importance of living out what you say you believe, not simply saying what you believe.

One way to express this is to ask yourself what it is you do each and every day of your life. I would suggest that Jesus could be paraphrased here, and in numerous other passages, as saying, "Show me what you do, how you behave, and that is what you really believe".

Again, I'm not against doctrine and this article is not in any way attempting to suggest that doctrine and theology are useless. Far from it. In fact, what I'm saying is that your doctrine and theology are a lie if you don't act out the principles contained in your doctrine and theology.

I am also not suggesting that our actions affect our salvation, which is 100% the work of Christ and his act of sacrifice upon the cross.

Dallas Willard, one of my spiritual heroes, has a great quote about this. He says, "What you really believe about Jesus is revealed by what you do when you realize that you cannot do anything (to earn your salvation*)".

(*From the Allelon Series on Kingdom Living, linked off of my main website at I recommend everyone go and download all of those and listen to them carefully).

So, what do you really believe about Jesus? It's revealed in the way you live your life. It's revealed in the way you treat people. It's revealed in the way you think of yourself. It's revealed in the way you behave when you think no one is looking.

If you have really confessed and believed that Jesus is Lord, then your life will reflect that reality as you submit to the rule and reign of God in your life. It will be revealed as you search the scriptures for wisdom and in the way you apply it to your everyday life. If you have confessed it and yet continue to rule your own life as you see fit, then in reality it is you in control and not Jesus, therefore, Jesus is not Lord.

There is a wonderful passage in a book called "Follow Me" by Jan David Hettinga (which I whole-heartedly recommend) where the author relates a counseling session between himself and a dear friend who is undergoing turmoil in his life. The author listen to his friend complain about his life and then challenges him about whether or not Jesus is really in charge of his life. At first this friend is angry at him for suggesting such a thing, but then the author calmly points out every event in his life where he has blatantly followed his own lusts and desires and kept Jesus out of control.

At the end of the conversation the author asks his friend, "What would your life look like if you really gave Jesus control over everything today?" His friend is quiet for a moment and then starts to say, "I guess I’d stop drinking so much and I’d have to cancel my poker night with the guys every week. I know I’d have to be a lot nicer to my wife and spend more time with my children, etc."

The author then asks his friend if he's willing to start allowing Jesus to be the Lord of his life or not.

As I've said before, one of the greatest challenges to living in the Kingdom of God is that most of us here in America have never been presented with the Gospel that Jesus preached throughout his ministry; "Repent for the Kingdom of God is near." (Matt 4:17,Luke 4:43, Mark 1:5, Matt 9:35, etc.)

The Gospel most of us have heard all our lives is the "Repeat after me" prayer and the pronouncement of instant salvation as a free gift. We never hear the "Live after me" message that Jesus taught and our lives suffer for it.

Because the part about surrendering to Christ is left out, most of us have never thought about it very much. But Jesus talked about it all the time. It's impossible to read the Gospels and to study the words of Jesus and miss the fact that he most definitely intended for his disciples to hear his words and to put them into practice.

A. W. Tozer (another of my spiritual heroes of the faith) has a great insight into this most recent neutering of the Gospel for American consumers. He says, "a notable heresy has come into being throughout evangelical Christian circles—the widely—accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Savior and that we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to!" (From his book "I Call It Heresy")

He goes even as far as to suggest, "that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred scriptures."

I had to come to grips with this in my own life just a few years ago. After living for over two decades as a born-again Christian, licensed and ordained into the ministry of the Gospel, I came face to face with the reality that I had misunderstood the essence of the Gospel that Jesus came and died to preach. It shook me to realize that I had been trying to follow Jesus all that time without carrying my cross and dying to my self each day. The foolish thing was that Jesus specifically told us in scripture that we cannot follow him unless we take up our cross daily.
(see Luke 14:27)

I had to repent and to start over with Jesus as my Lord and my Savior. It has been a long process where Jesus patiently and lovingly reveals this truth to me over time...and I'm still learning!

The most challenging, and life-changing, part has been the daily walk with Jesus as I attempt to learn how to actually die to myself and surrender to his perfect plan for my life.

So, it is about belief, and it's also about how we practice what we believe, and that is where the real Christian life begins.

THE MISSION: WEEK 4- We had our fourth Sunday morning gathering last weekend. It has been so amazing to watch people growing in their faith, ministering to one another, teaching and worshiping and praying for one another. It's so great to have people share in an equal way, as equal members of the Body of Christ, where children and adults alike can share from God's Word, pray for each other and confess their weakness in order to be encouraged and blessed. One of our members, who only recently began playing worship songs on his guitar remarked that there was no other church in town who would dare allow him to join the Sunday morning worship team, and yet in our home he's free to do as God calls him to. There is a "Mission House Church" page here if you want to read more about what God has been doing:

APOLOGY: Sorry these have been getting later and later each week. I've been swamped with house church stuff, job hunting, work and life in general has been crazy. Thanks for hanging in there with me as I try to write these each week, work on my upcoming column for and push to finish up both book projects before the end of this year. I also appreciate your prayers for me during this time as I try to hear God's voice and find the job he has next for me.

COMING UP: I've been sitting on a few article ideas for like two months now. Hopefully between this newsletter and the column I can hammer these out. Here’s a sneak peek at what's in the works:

*House Church 101- It's not a home group. It's not taking what happens on Sunday at the church down the street and duplicating it in your living room. So...what IS house church all about? (A look at the basics of house church)

*"I Tell You The Truth" – Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the word preaching the Gospel, baptizing new believers as they went, and "teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you". Do you know what the commands of Jesus are? Why has the Church left this vital component out of the liturgy and teaching of disciples? How can we get it back?

*"Foreknowledge and Freewill"- Ali vs Frazier; Godzilla vs Mothra, Calvinism vs Armenism; There are few battles more heated, and hateful, than these, but why do Christians battle over the concepts of free will and predestination with such venom? Is there a sane resolution to the conflict? A Biblical response to seemingly conflicting sets of belief.

*”Grace and Works”- The resolution is alarmingly simple, and explained in a single verse of scripture, yet many Christians still don't grasp the symbiotic relationship between Grace and Works. Are the two mutually exclusive? Maybe we don't understand what Grace really is? Maybe we put too much emphasis on Works? Finding middle ground and staying there are two different things.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Practice and Belief

Practice and Belief
by Keith Giles

In the early church, the Christian faith was defined more by practice, not by doctrine. Islam, Judaism and the early Christians were all defined by what they did (practice) more so than a set of doctrines or beliefs. Jews kept the Sabbath. Muslims prayed several times a day, Christians gave to the poor. Faith was seen as a way of life, not a list of beliefs.

It was only after Constantine that the Church began to shift towards defining a Christian as someone who held to a set of beliefs and away from a person who lived a certain way. Mainly this was so that Constantine could have Christian soldiers who would profess Christ and still sign up to slay their enemies in combat. Previous to this, Christians were notoriously pascifists and went to their deaths when confronted rather than to take up a sword and defend themselves.

In our current culture, being a Christian is still understood as being more about having the right belief and less about having the character of Christ and practicing the faith.

A simple reading of the Gospels will reveal that Jesus expected that His disciples would obey His teachings. He was quite adamant that to call Him "Lord" wasn't enough if you weren't going to actually put His words into practice. (see Luke 6:46, Matt 7:21, John 14:23, etc.)

The book of James makes it clear that belief alone is not enough. "You believe that there is one God? Good! Even the demons believe and they shake with fear." (James 2:19) The passage goes on to point out how Abraham's faith was demonstrated by his actions. "You see that his faith and his actions were working together and his faith was made complete by what he did." (James 2:22). The most stunning statement in James is in verse 24 where he says, "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."

Whoa. Let that sink in for a moment.

Faith (belief) has to be accompanied by action (practice) in order for your faith to be justified (proven true).

My simple paraphrase of this goes like, "Swimming won’t make you a fish; but if you are a fish you will swim." So, if you do good works in order to be saved you’re wasting your time. However, if you have truly become a new creation through a relationship with Jesus, you will become the sort of person who does good works by nature.

So, in the mind of the earliest disciples of Jesus, following Him was all about practice, not simply agreeing with a doctrine or belief. Trusting in Jesus is about obedience, submission and relationship, not cerebral acknowledgement or knowledge.

My concern is for those people out there who are placing a false hope in a statement of faith in Jesus who have never actually surrendered their life to Christ as the Lord of their life.

I'm also concerned that our world is full of people who walk around proclaiming themselves to be Christians yet live any way they want; in complete oppostion to the words of Jesus.

"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." – JESUS (John 17:3)

The kind of knowledge Jesus is speaking of here corresponds with the idea of intimacy. In fact, it's closer to the word for sexual interaction. This is the kind of knowledge that conceives new life.

This is the kind of intimate knowledge of God and of Jesus we are meant to have.

Knowing stuff about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus. I could know all about Shaquille O'Neil but still not know him as a person. My knowledge of him would not mean that Shaq and I are friends. In the same way, it's possible for you and I to become experts on Bible Trivia about Jesus and still not really "know" Jesus personally.

A few months ago a friend of mine stood in my house and shared with me a story about someone who they were hoping would become a Christian. "If I can just get them to say they believe in Jesus, they’re saved," the person said.

We had an interesting discussion out of that statement, but what really kept gnawing on me was the mindset that my friend had, and that I observe that many others have, when it comes to the question of Salvation. Specifically, I think it has to do with what we believe it really means to be a Christian.

Obviously, my friend would say that to be a Christian is to say that you believe in Jesus. Maybe you don't even have to really do anything else except say it out loud, like a magic word, and then God has no choice but to let you into heaven. I have to question this line of reasoning.

I know that many Christians believe that all you have to do to get into Heaven is to repeat a prayer, believe that Jesus was real and make plans for the afterlife. But is that really what the Scriptures teach about what it means to inherit Eternal Life? Is that really what it means to be a Christian?

In scripture, and historically, the word "Christian" came from the followers in Antioch who were called such because they were so much like Jesus that the pagans around them called them "little Christ's" or, literally, "Christ-ians". The name doesn't mean what it used to mean in our society today.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life"- Jesus (John 3:16)

What does Jesus intend to teach here? I think it all hangs on how you understand his use of the word "Believes". If you think Jesus meant "to think that Jesus was an historical person", or even "to accept that Jesus was the Messiah", you’d be missing the real point.

In the actual passage, Jesus is having a conversation with a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus. In the conversation Jesus is not asking Nicodemus to believe that Jesus is standing there. Obviously Nicodemus believed Jesus was real and alive, they were having an active conversation together. So, to "believe" in Jesus is more than mental knowledge or acceptance of a series of facts as being true.

What does the Bible mean when it says, "Believe" or "Know"? Many would tell us that this means simply accepting as factual or having the knowledge of something as being true. If this is what Jesus and Paul meant in these verses, then this would be the correct interpretation of these passages. But this is absolutely not what Jesus or Paul meant by the words "Believe" and "Know", therefore our understanding of these passages is seriously flawed and we have to take another look at what is really being said here.

One main clue as to what Jesus meant is to look up the passage in the Greek. The actual phrasing used in most cases is actually; "Believe into the Son" which suggests placing faith or trust for your life into the hands of Jesus. The best example of this is the Greek rendering of John 3:36 which says, "The one believing into the Son has everlasting life, but the one disobeying the Son will not see life..." Again, the choices are to obey/believe or to reject/disobey. Belief, then, is more about obedience and practice, not doctrine divorced from a way of life.

Many people quote Romans 10: 9-10 which says, "That if you confess with your mouth that 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Again, it is not the act of saying "Jesus is Lord," it’s very much about actually living like someone who is surrendered to Jesus and being someone who actually makes Jesus their Lord. It is not about saying a magic word in order to get a ticket to heaven.

I'm not suggesting that doctrine and belief are unnecessary. In fact, I feel that doctrine is quite important. But by itself it's not enough. What we need is Jesus.

Maybe what we need is to have a reinterpretation of what it means to believe? Better yet, perhaps we should simply take Jesus at his word and begin to do what he says?

I would love for the day to come when people can tell whether or not someone is a follower of Jesus by the way they practice the Jesus way of life.

Let's do our best to encourage one another to follow Jesus in this way.

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

JOB TRAIL: Still on the hunt for a full-time job. So far God has closed a lot of doors. He’s provided miraculously for us since the end of June. He has been faithful to us in the midst of uncertainty. I appreciate your prayers for me and for my family during this time.
NEW COLUMN: My new regular column, "SUBVERSIVE", will begin over at as soon as the final installment of the "Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" series is done. (Which should go up this week, I believe). Watch for more details soon. I'd appreciate it if you could all come by and leave a comment, etc. once the articles are posted. It would really encourage me.
THE MISSION: Our third Sunday Morning house church service was the last weekend. I am so excited about what God is doing in each of our lives. This is seriously the best thing I've ever done in my life with the word "Church" on it!
According to my post counter this is post number 50. Wow. I can't believe I've been doing this for like, fifty weeks! And they said it wouldn't last...


Monday, October 16, 2006

DEFINITION by Keith Giles

DEFINITION by Keith Giles

It's always exciting for me to learn something new, especially when what you learn is something more about who you are as a person.

As an early birthday present to myself (I turn 40 next month) I bought myself the book, "U2 by U2". It's a fascinating, inspirational, and surprisingly moving account of the life of the band that is U2, as written in their own words.

I've never read any of the other books about U2 before, but this one really caught my attention, especially since it was a complete history of the band from inception to current events, told by the four members themselves.

Whether or not you agree with me that U2 is the greatest band in the history of rock and roll (I do realize that taste in music is subjective), you would hopefully agree that no other band has had such an impact on music, culture, politics, art, and faith as they have.

There are several astonishing quotes and stories in this book, but one that spoke to me the other day was a comment made by Bono regarding his fascination with people like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. He admitted that his attraction to them was largely due to the fact that they were all such men of peace and he knew that deep inside he was a man of violence and anger. He was attracted to these men because they embodied virtues that he himself lacked.

That started me thinking. I have a friend who is always pounding the table about the lack of virtue in modern society. He is quite eloquent in the discussion of character and morality. Yet I've observed that this person is not really the moral giant one might assume he is, based on his passion and his convictions. I realized that, perhaps my friend is so obsessed with the issue of character and morality because deep down inside he realizes that he has a flaw in this area.

As my wife and I were discussing this, she admitted that she finds people who are quiet and patient to be quite fascinating, specifically because she knows that she lacks patience and can sometimes find herself talking very loud without realizing it. She is not a quiet person, although she loves the quiet. I am often asked to switch off the cd player in the car so that she can enjoy a moment of peace.

All this made me realize that I myself have an attraction to people who have a compassionate, servant's heart because I know that inside I can be a desperately selfish and self-centered person.

As an only child, I suppose I didn't have much of a chance of not being self-centered growing up. I enjoyed being an only child, especially because it meant that I got everything I wanted for my birthday and for Christmas. I never had to sacrifice my wants for a sister or a brother. Usually, if I want something, one way or the other, I will find a way to get it.

It's quite interesting to discover that my passion for serving others is rooted in the repulsion I have for my own selfishness. In some paradoxical way, if I weren't so sick of my own selfish heart, I would probably never have developed a heart for others.

My attraction to people with an outward focus is part of the reason I married Wendy. When we were first getting to know each other, in college, there was a time when we walked down to a nursing home to visit some people there. In all honesty, I was only going along because she was going and it gave me the chance to hang out with her.

I remember we walked up to the door of the nursing home and I instinctively rushed past an old woman in a wheel chair who was sitting outside the door, heading straight in to do my good deed for the day. However, when I grabbed the front door and stood there holding it open for Wendy (to show her what a gentleman I could be), I realized that she wasn't there. I turned around and I saw her, down on her knees, looking into this woman's eyes with genuine love and compassion. She smiled at her and gave her a big, warm hug as I stood frozen in place, holding open that door for no one.

In that moment I knew that I loved this girl. I had never witnessed such simple, sincere compassion in my life before. I wanted to know how she could do that. I wanted to know what it would take for my heart to be so changed that I would also love others this way.

Maybe that's why, after seventeen years of marriage, I am a different person than I was in college. All I know is that, over the years, my heart for others has been radically changed by my relationship with Wendy. I have also been eager to learn from people like David Ruis, Greg Russinger, Jackie Pullinger, and several others, about what it really means to live a life of love and selfless giving.

I know I still have a long way to go in this area. I am still a student of compassion and a large part of my walk with Jesus is wrapped up in discovering how I can be, like Him, a loving, compassionate person who is more interested in serving than in being served.

I've not yet fully realized my desire to become, like Jesus, the servant of all, but I do know that there is a part of me I wish were not there. I wish I had come "out of the box" as a more giving, sharing, compassionate person. This is the part of me that I have to work on, and the great thing is, somehow, at the end of my life, by the Grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I will be like Jesus.

Until that day, I'm glad I have a wife like Wendy.

NEW REGULAR COLUMN: As soon as the six-part series "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" is complete over at, my regular column called "SUBVERSIVE" will continue running in the same slot on the front page. So, now this will mean I will have to provide content for this weekly e-newsletter, the column, plus my website. I am an over-achiever.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY: Wendy and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past weekend (hence the lateness of this article). I'm not sure how I convinced her to marry me, but I'm holding on until the last! Any of you who know her can verify that she's the best thing that ever happened to me.

JOB UPDATE: No major news yet. I'm interviewing with Joey O'Conner on Friday about The Grove Center for the Arts possibility. I've got a call tomorrow with a guy who needs a dispatcher for his heavy equipment rental business (yeah...I'm not sure that's the one either....but I'm trying to be open to whatever God might be doing). I'm also hopeful about a possible job helping a local church lead their congregation into a more missional lifestyle. That one could work out, although it could just as easily be nothing.

Thanks, again, to everyone who has been praying for us. I know that God will lead us through this time.

*to reply to this email, do NOT hit "reply" because I WILL NOT get it. Instead, send your email to me directly at "elysiansky (at) hotmail (dot) com".


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Notes From The Edge

Notes From The Edge by Keith Giles

When I pulled up and parked in front of the Deseret Bookstore, I felt a bit of fear. Not unlike the fear I imagine a covert agent must feel before he enters a building in order to gather intelligence. As I passed through the front door I felt a tingle run up my spine, as if I had just passed the hostile roadblock into the evil empire undetected. Why? Because this bookstore was unlike any other bookstore you've ever been inside.

This was a Mormon Bookstore.

I tried to act casual and browse the aisles without looking too conspicuous. The last thing I wanted was for one of the salespeople to notice me and think I needed some help finding the "Pearl Of Great Price" in a leather edition, or maybe ask me if I wanted a Joseph Smith bumper sticker for my car.

I wondered if everyone I saw inside was a Mormon or if some were, like me, just curiosity-seekers. Perhaps some of them were simply oblivious to the fact that this was a Mormon-themed store. At any rate, I was not comfortable here. No one smiled at me or noticed me. I felt like an outsider and an intruder into their little world. Which, to be fair, I was.

On a whim I had decided to explore this Mormon-themed retail store. It happened to be in the same strip mall as the pizza place where I had ordered our family dinner and while our pie was in the oven I thought it might be interesting to see how the other side lived.

The inside was not unlike any mainline Christian store you’ve ever been in. There were rows of large, hardcover books that were written by various authors that you and I have never heard of, but that the average Mormon might recognize if he or she heard the names. The titles ranged from the devotional variety to fiction. (Mormon fiction?!) I was especially puzzled and even saddened to see a large section of paintings that depicted a laughing and loving Jesus. “Wow,” I thought, “How sad to offer pictures of Jesus for sale without offering any true concept of who Jesus really is.”

I soon found my way to the music section, as I usually do wherever I go, and was amazed to see a large wall covered with Cd’s and tapes. Yes. Cassette Tapes.

Except for that Amy Grant display on one shelf, most of the musical offerings were hymns collections performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There were some “rock” offerings too, which surprised me. Most of these were packaged like early eighties new wave projects and had names like “Elemenopee” and “Chris Savage and the Rock-Tones”. I was not too impressed. This was, after all, just a sad imitation of what mainline Christian bookstores across America have to offer.

I immediately realized that this was probably what most non-Christians would feel should they venture into one of our Christian Bookstores. I had to ponder if we in the Christian World came across as irrelevant and as derivative as our Mormon counterparts. Most of what I saw in this cult music section was a laughably pathetic rip-off of what I could purchase at my local Christian store. It had the look and feel of the real stuff but was obviously an imitation of the real thing.

It kind of made me scrutinize the whole Secular versus Christian bookstore dichotomy from a similar perspective.

I can’t help but feel a little saddened by the fact that most Christian Art (and especially Christian Music), is nothing more than a pale imitation of what the world is doing.

Just the other day some friends and I were standing around and we overhead the local Christian Radio Station blasting out of a nearby car. They were playing a remake of a popular secular called “Love Is The Answer” but adding the words “Jesus” and “Lord” here and there to sanctify it for our righteous ears.

It made me want to puke.

Why can’t the art and music of the Christian Culture be different? Even if it were just weird for the sake of being weird, I’d prefer this to the “sounds-like” comparisons of most music and art in the Christian Marketplace today.

I once interviewed Mark Saloman from the band Stavesacre and he had an amazing insight regarding this. He noted that, “…the world creates music and art from a fleshly and vain pool of inspiration. Whereas we, the sons of God, have a unique relationship and connection to the very Creator of the entire Universe. Why shouldn’t the World be following us? Why are we the ones who are following them?”

That’s a great question.

Why are we the ones who are following them?

For over seven years I worked in the Christian Music Industry. I still have friends who are part of the CCM Machine and most of them are great, Godly people who are doing their best to change the system from within. But, sadly, at the end of the day, the Christian Music Industry is still a business and the bottom line is selling product, not ministry.

Why is it easier to copy what someone else is doing and “Christianize” it? Maybe because it’s much more difficult to take the time to submit your craft to God, allow the Holy Spirit to work through your talent to create something that may, or may not, be acceptable to the mainstream audience.

The problem is, sometimes the Truth is offensive. Sometimes the one’s most offended are the people who are supposed to be your brothers and sisters. If you’re supposed to be a “Christian Artist”, and especially if you’re trying to make a living at it, the last thing you’d ever want to do is to offend anyone.

What the world needs now is a new wave of true artists. Those who are more committed to using their talents to communicate a burning truth that sears the soul, rather than those who simply want to spread their own fame.

People like Derek Webb, Jars of Clay, Switchfoot and Over The Rhine come to mind. Artists who create what is sincere and true have more interesting things to say than those who are simply trying to sell us something.

Maybe the real problem is when we try to make a buck off of the Truth? I think maybe loving people and living out the Gospel should never get confused with commerce.

What do you think?

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”- Isaiah 6:8 (KJV)

FIRST SUNDAY: Today we had our very first Sunday Morning house church meeting. I am so excited about the way God has been leading this. It's truly something that He is doing, not me. In fact, the more I take my hands off of it, the better it goes. Please continue to pray for us as we seek His leadership and begin to pray about taking our church outside into the parks and open air of the community around us.

MAN OF GOD: Tonight our family participated in a "Right of Passage" for a young man in our "Mission" house church who is turning 13. It was such a blessing to celebrate this with everyone and to speak into his life, sharing with his family and acknowledging the hand of God in his development. Here's to Jacob Wright. A young man who has a heart for people, a divine, spiritual gift of evangelism and a small army of people who believe in him and support him in his walk with Jesus. Welcome to manhood Jacob. We're proud of you!

IN PROCESS: Working on several articles at the moment. Too busy to thumbnail them here, but watch your "inbox" for a few goodies soon.

THANK YOU: So many of you have emailed me to let me know you've been standing with me and my family in prayer as I search for a new full-time job. I know that God will show us His plans very soon and I look forward to sharing with all of you what He will do in our lives because of your faithfulness to pray and to stand with us during this time.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Secret Power

Paul’s Secret Power by Keith Giles
*(taken from the book-in-progress- "The Power Of Weakness")

If I’ve learned anything in my spiritual journey, it’s that God often allows us to go through challenges, difficulty, sorrow and pain so that we can learn the deeper lessons of faith and life in the Kingdom.

I know that many Christians struggle with this concept of God as one who is good, and yet still allows suffering for his children.

I mean, aren’t we the “King’s Kids”? Don’t we have the promise of blessing and plenty as devoted followers of Jesus? Didn’t God promise that we are healed by the stripes of Jesus? Isn’t it always God’s will that we be healthy and happy?

The short answer is, “No, He doesn’t”.

Perhaps one day I will write a book about how God, who is good, allows us, His children, to endure suffering in this life, as part of His mercy to us. For now, let me suggest that we stop and consider the original “King’s Kid” and how God allowed Him to suffer when He walked upon this Earth. The crucifixion notwithstanding, Jesus was born into a poor family (see Luke 2:24 and then Leviticus 12:8), endured the death of Joseph, his earthly father, walked everywhere, and was homeless (Matthew 8:20). What more should we expect as adoptive sons and daughters of the King?

As A.W. Tozer declares, “Our great honor lies in being just what Jesus was and is. To be accepted by those who accept Him, rejected by all who reject Him, loved by those who love Him and hated by everyone who hates Him. What greater glory could come to any man?” (“Born After Midnight” pp. 58-59, 1959, Christian Publications, Inc., Camp Hill PA.)

If this isn’t enough, Jesus himself promised us that, “In this life, you will have trouble” (John 16:33) and Paul the Apostle, who yearns to know the “fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Philipians 3:10), spent most of his ministry cold and starving in prison, as did many other disciples. Even those considered “Super Apostles” gladly shared in the sufferings of Jesus here in this life.

Hebrews has an astounding verse which declares that many of our heroes in the faith went to their graves having never received what was promised to them by God. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” (Hebrews 11:13)

My own spiritual journey has proven this to be true; that God allows suffering in order to teach us how to walk by faith and to trust in Him alone. God has our eternal happiness in mind, not our temporal comfort.

Paul the Apostle knew this to be true.

In 2 Corinthians, chapter 12, Paul begins to tell us how God allowed him to suffer in order to teach him an awesome truth.

Paul was living with a “thorn in the flesh” and desperately wanted God to remove it.

We don’t know exactly what this “thorn” was, but most scholars believe that it had something to do with his eyes, perhaps cataracts or partial blindness. There are numerous clues throughout the letters of Paul that suggest that his eyes were failing him. In Galatians 4:14-15 he refers to this illness by saying, “my illness was a trial to you” and “you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me”, further suggesting that his thorn was connected to an eye problem. He remarks that he has written in “large letters” as he wrote with his “own hand” the closing portion of Galatians chapter 6. This, say scholars, was indicative of his failing eyesight. It also makes sense that Paul’s eyes were weak due to the nature of his conversion, where he was knocked from his horse by a blinding light and later had to be healed in order to regain his sight, as recorded in Acts 9.

Whatever Paul’s thorn, we know from the second letter to the Corinthians that it was something he dearly wanted to be healed of.

So, Paul the Apostle, one of the giants of the Christian faith, who lead the first missionary expeditions to the nations of the Gentiles, who wrote most of the entire New Testament, who healed the sick and performed miraculous signs and wonders in the name of Jesus, gets on his knees and pleads for God to heal him.

God, who is good, says “No”.

Not once, not twice, but three times. God’s answer was “No”.

And then God adds this sentence in reply to Paul’s plea for healing, “My Grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness.”

We have missed this incredible truth, for the most part. Especially when we listen to and embrace doctrine that says that God always wants us to be healthy and happy and wealthy and prosperous by this world’s standards.

When we endure hardship, we attribute this to Satan. We must be under some sort of spiritual attack. We come to God but only to beg him to take away the pain and remove the thorn from our side because we cannot imagine that God, who is good, might have a lesson of trust that He wants to walk us through.

The first chapter of James is one of my favorite sections of scripture. In this passage, James, the half-brother of Jesus himself, teaches us to “consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you endure hardships of many kinds…for we know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I used to think that James was saying we should just smile through the pain. Grin and bear it, if you will. But, over time, I have come to really understand how we, as followers of Jesus, can seriously consider it pure joy when we endure hardships of many kinds.

What James is speaking of is a simple trust that all things, including our hardships, come from God, who is good, for the purpose of making us who we want to be in our heart of hearts.

When we endure hardships, our faith is tested. This is when we discover if what we say we believe is really what we believe or not. If we never have an opportunity to put our faith to the test, we’ll never know if we can stand on it or not.

When I was out of work for over a year and a half, with a wife and two small boys to car for, I learned more than I ever thought I could about my own, real faith.

I knew through that experience that God was really near to me. That He really heard my prayers. That He would really give me daily bread if I would simply sit back and trust in Him alone.

Faith, says James, develops something called perseverance. Perseverance is the kind of faith, the quality of faith, that will not let go of God, no matter what.

It’s the quality of faith we see in the life of Job, who endures the most traumatic suffering allowed by God, who is good, and finds the words to say, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.” (Job 13:15)

That’s perseverance, and it is this quality of faith that we can only develop as we endure hardships of many kinds. As Job did. As Paul did. As you and I do.

I can’t speak for any of you, but as for me, I dearly want that kind of faith. I want the sort of faith in God which, tried in the fire, emerges as pure, refined gold.

James tells us that we can’t have that kind of faith unless we endure trials and hardships “of many kinds,” and so, we can honestly and sincerely count it pure joy when those opportunities come to test our faith and burn away the doubt and the fears of our flesh, to reveal the sort of faith that trusts in God no matter what.

James goes on to say that this process of enduring hardship, with joy, is the path to maturity where we will truly “not lack anything”.

So, in a way, it is true that God’s ultimate plan is to lead us through our life and eventually to bring us to the place where we “want for nothing”, however His path and His plan doesn’t always involve earthly wealth and a life of leisure. Instead, God’s plan is to perform the greatest miracle of all; to transform someone like you, someone like me, into the image of His own son, Jesus.

Until we let go of the worldly twist on the Gospel, which says that God’s plan is to give us a rose garden life flowing with ease and comfort, we will never have our own eyes healed to see what Paul saw that day when his prayer for healing went unanswered.

Until we are able to see that we can honestly count it pure joy to endure suffering and refine our faith in Him we’ll never understand the mystery that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.

Luckily for us, Paul gets it. He is able to see something with spiritual eyes that his own failing, physical eyes, could never hope to view, the power of Christ revealed in our flesh.

“I will boast all the more in my weakness for it is the power of Christ working in me!”

(Read: 1 Corinthians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and 2 Corinthians 12:9)
To reply to me, DO NOT reply to this email. I will not get it. Instead, send your comments to me directly at:
elysiansky (at) hotmail (dot) com.

THE GOSPEL: FOR HERE OR TO GO? - The six-part series is running over at both Neil Cole's CMA Resources ( and also at If you've missed this series, I'd encourage you to check them out online. You can read up to part 4 over at and CMA has up to part 3 so far. Enjoy!

CHURCH IN THE PARK- Several of us will be meeting next Sunday morning to begin praying for wisdom and direction as we look towards starting a new Sunday morning church that will meet and worship and share food and read the Gospels together in a local park. More as things develop.