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