Friday, March 30, 2007

Number 8- "Obedience Is Not An Option"

Number 8- Obedience to Jesus is not Optional by Keith A. Giles
(Part of the 10-part series- "Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know (But Probably Doesn't)"

"If you love me, you will obey what I command."
- Jesus (John 14:15)

Somehow we have allowed the idea that someone can be a follower of Jesus without actually obeying Jesus' teaching or becoming a disciple. What we have in modern American Christianity is a brand of religion that says to its founder, "I'd like a little of your blood to cover my sins, but I don't care to follow you or take your teachings seriously. If you would please excuse me, I’ll get on with my life. See you in heaven." Dallas Willard calls those kinds of people “Vampire Christians” because all they want is some of Jesus’ blood, but none of His leadership.

"You are my friends if you do what I command"- Jesus (John 15:14)

"Easy Grace" is the short answer. The long answer is that, in an effort to streamline evangelism and create a sound-byte version of the Gospel we've reduced the message to "Pray this prayer if you don't want to go to hell when you die". This makes the ninety-second evangelist happy, but the full message of the Gospel is lost in the process.

Gone is the idea that Jesus calls people to follow Him. A decision to become a Christian is a decision to give up your personal rights to call the shots in your life. It means submitting to God, to the teachings of Jesus and the authority of the Word of God as the one and only source of how to live.

"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." - Jesus (John 14:21)

Remnants of this more complete Gospel are still part of our Christian-ese language. People still say things like; "I gave my life to Christ" or "When I surrendered my life to Jesus" as part of their church talk, but many don't literally mean that they've done this, or that they are still doing this today.

The decision to obey Jesus, to submit to Him is a daily decision. We must bend the knee and whisper the prayer of surrender to Christ each day. It is not a one-time thing. This is why Jesus urges His disciples to ask for daily bread when they pray and to make their obedience to Him an act of daily taking up our
cross to die to ourselves. This is also why God's mercies are new every morning. We have short memories and God knows we need to surrender to him afresh with every breath.

Some of us still sing "I Surrender All" and we still have a "Jesus is Lord" bumper sticker on our car, but many in the modern American Church have forgotten the meaning of those words. Jesus is not really the Lord because we're not actually surrendering all to Him.

"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching."
- Jesus (John 14:23)

What is most striking to me as I study the clear teachings of Jesus on the issue of obedience is the tight connection He makes between our obedience to His teaching and our love for Him. It is impossible to separate our devotion to Jesus from our submission to Him as our Lord.

This gives new meaning to the passage that says, "If anyone says, 'I love God' yet hates his brother he is a liar."- (1 John 4:20). If we say we love God but we disobey His clear teachings to love others, He knows we don't really mean the words we say. Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another, and to love our enemies as ourselves. If we say we love Jesus but we fail to obey His teaching to love others, we are liars and the love of God is
not in us. This is also why Jesus said that they would know we are His disciples by our love. Because we have obeyed His command to love others it will be clear that we love Him above all.

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love.."
- Jesus (John 15:10)

I believe we have to start by changing the way we do evangelism. We have to stop inviting people to pray a one-time prayer in order to get the license to Heaven. We have to invite people who are tired of doing life their own way to surrender their life to Jesus and learn to follow Him and His teachings every day.

As Todd Hunter says, we need to ask people who have an interest in Jesus, "Who will you follow and how will you live your life?" instead of asking them, "If you died tonight do you know you'd go to Heaven tomorrow?"

We need a Gospel for life, not a Gospel for death. The Gospel that Jesus came and gave His life to communicate was that the Kingdom of God had come and that we could begin to live under His reign and rule today, right now. Not after we die.

Most importantly, we ourselves need to re-think our concept of what it means to be a Christian. It's not about attending a church service. It's not about where we shop. It's not about the bumper stickers on our car. Being a Christian is the way we live our lives. We are followers of Jesus. Daily we have to take up our own cross and obey the words of the Lord we love.

Obedience to Jesus is not an option. For a Christian, it's a necessity.

"He who does not love me will not obey my teaching."
- Jesus (John 14:24)

For further study:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven"- Jesus (Matthew 7:21).

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
- Jesus (Matthew 28: 19- 20).

"Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him." - 1 John 3:21-22

"Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them."
- 1 John 3:24

"This is love for God: to obey His commands." - 1 John 5:3

"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands."
- 2 John 1:6

Also: Revelation 12:17; Revelation 14:12; John 13:17; Psalm 103:18

"There is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus'expense and have nothing more to do with him."
- Dallas Willard ("The Divine Conspiracy")

"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...salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred scriptures."
- A.W. Tozer ("I Call It Heresy")

This month's SOJOURNER'S Magazine is an incredible look at human trafficking and slavery in our world today.
I highly recommended this publication.
Just for [Subversive Underground] subscribers here's a
FREE trial of Award-winning SOJOURNERS magazine:

Click here:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


[Subversive Underground]GREATNESS? by Keith Giles

My greatest fear is that I will never be a great man, that I will always be less than average...the lowest, the least of God's shining stars.

After nine months I still have no clue what to do with my life. I look in the mirror at night and I wonder if I'll die a failure.

Will I ever publish a book? Would that make me great? Will I ever find a full-time job that pays well, with insurance for my wife and children? Would that make me a great person?

Will I ever be famous or successful or honored among my peers?

Would any of those things make me a great man?

What is greatness? I'm sure someone somewhere has written a poem or a speech about it. I should google it sometime. Is that what a great man would do?

Why do I struggle with these questions at all? Why do I care so much about things like success or popularity? I don't know. I just know I can't find a job. I can't be the husband and the father...the provider I want to be.

I don't know what would make me great, but I do know one thing. I am not great. I am less than average. I am only me.

The ironic thing is that I'm currently writing a book about the hidden wisdom in the Gospel of the Kingdom regarding the power of weakness.

The truth is, sometimes it's hard to believe the words in my own book. It's hard to believe that God has a plan to make me more like Jesus and that the path to that involves enduring a measure of pain, of weakness, of humility, in order to discover the power of Christ.

What I'm learning now is that there is a very big difference between knowing something is true because you've read it in a book, and knowing something is true because you've lived it.

As I learn to daily die to myself, I'm discovering that God is really in complete control. He has everything where he wants it to be, including me.

Yesterday I read a wonderful quote from the book "Let Go" by Fenelon. It read, "It is in weakness that we can admit our mistakes and correct ourselves while confessing them. It is in weakness that our minds are open to enlightment from others. It is in weakness that we are authoritative in nothing, and say the most clear-cut things with simplicity and consideration of others. In weakness we do not object to being criticized and we easily submit to censure. At the same time we criticize no one without absolute necessity. We give advice only to those who desire it, and even then we speak with love and without being dogmatic."

Maybe I am not great. I freely admit I don't even really know what the word means. I do know that most of what I would expect to help make me great will really only make me shallow and self-absorbed.

God's plan for my life is to make me like Jesus. The character of Christ is one who came to serve and not to be served. Jesus was the leader who got on his knees and washed his follower's feet. He was the one who suffered and died under the hand of unjust punishment without striking back. He even forgave those who were in the act of torturing him to death.

The path to greatness is not the same as the path of Jesus. The way of the cross is the only way to follow him. He said so himself.

His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.

This is why Jesus calls us to "Repent" in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Because "Repent" literally means to "think again". It involves re-thinking our lives and re-defining the things we value most.

I am not great. I am just me. And the real problem begins there.

The real miracle is that, someday, somehow, God's plan is to take someone like me and make me into the image of his Son.

So, every day I have to wake up and take up my cross and submit my life to Christ. There is no other way.

"If anyone would be the greatest, he must be the very least and the servant of all"- Jesus (Mark 9:35)

One Voice to End Slavery

*It's free but please go online to register your attendance.

I'll be there along with event host Greg Russinger (my friend)
and several hundred others who are concerned about human trafficking, children-at-risk and slavery.

DO ME A FAVOR: Please go by The Next-Wave Magazine online and ready my article "DOUBT".
If you really want to bless me, leave a comment or rank the article for me.
It's here:



*sun 25th mar 07
Sacramento, CA
Capital Christian Centre,
9470 Micron Avenue,
Sacramento, CA 95827
Info + Tickets: Tel: 916 856 5683

*mon 26th mar 07
Fresno, CA
Celebration Church,
284 W Shaw Avenue,
Clovis, CA, 93612
Info + Tickets:
tel: 559 275 2083

*wed 28th mar 07
San Diego, CA
Horizon Christian Fellowship
5331 Mt Alifan
San Diego CA 92111
Info + Tickets:
tel: 858 277 4991

*thurs 29th mar 07
San Bernardino, CA
The Rock Church
2345 S Waterman Avenue
San Bernardino CA 92408
Info + Tickets:
tel: 909 825 8887

*fri 30th mar 07
Yorba Linda, CA
Yorba Linda Friends Church
5141 Lakeview Avenue
Yorba Linda CA 92886
Info + Tickets:
tel: 949 250 0444


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


by Keith Giles

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."- Isaiah 40:11

This verse, written by the prophet Isaiah some 500 years before Christ, is a prophetic look at the Messiah who would come to set people free and bring salvation to every Nation.

The prophecy is fulfilled in The Gospel of Mark when Jesus allowed the children in the crowd to come to him. The full text says, "People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." - Mark 10:13-16

There are several key things to notice in the passage above. First, that the Disciples (sometimes referred to as the "Duh-Sciples"), didn't get it. They wanted to keep Jesus from the nuisance of children. Instead, Jesus grew angry and not only did he allow them to come near, he used this as an opportunity to teach us something about the Kingdom.

Great teachers were often found blessing children. Greek philosophers enjoyed blessing the youth of their day, but here Jesus does something that none of the others ever did. He took them into his arms and held them in his lap, and he loved them.

All other teachers who blessed children did so from a distance, but Jesus allowed them to come near enough to embrace. He held them in his arms. He carried them close to his heart.

I had never before noticed that the passage in Isaiah was fulfilled by this scene in the Gospel of Mark. I had missed that the prophetic verse referred to a shepherd who would gather the lambs in his arms. Lambs are the children of the sheep.

This passage also shows us that Jesus had a heart for women as well. It says, "He gently leads those who have young", showing his compassion for women who care for children every day.

Most striking in the verses from Mark is the comment made by Jesus that "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it". He doesn't say that it will be hard for those who do not receive the kingdom like a child. He says they will never enter it. Never.

To receive the kingdom of God like a child is to submit totally to the Master. It is to crawl into his lap and to trust him, to let him bless you, and to obey his words because you take comfort in his love for you.

Today I woke up and realized that God has been working this simple attitude of gentle submission into my heart. My first thoughts today were, "What is your will for me today, My Lord?"

I know it sounds hokey, and maybe you doubt it, but it's true. Before I rolled out of bed I whispered those words to God while I was still halfway asleep. It was almost a reflex action.

Let me assure you, this is not my usual practice. Maybe it's the process of being humbled over the last few months that I have endured? Maybe it's that I've given up on my plans for my life and I've finally started to rely on God for direction? I'm not entirely sure, to be honest.

After rolling out of bed, I got up and prepared to return to a temporary job assignment that I had worked at about four months previously. Here again I was getting ready to go back to that same old desk and that same sense of uncertainty about my future employment.

When I got to the office I had a few minutes to catch up with my old supervisor on a few things. She said she had been praying for me all this time, which really blessed me. I told her about my various contract jobs over the last several months, both good and not so good. That's when she said something that made me blink.

She looked at me and said, "Well, I guess every day is another chance to wake up and say, 'Ok Lord, what do you have in store for me today?'"

I just had to nod my head and smile.

The rest of the day was as mundane and uneventful as ever, but that moment alone was enough to remind me that I have a Good Shepherd who loves me and cares for me and who daily longs to draw me into his arms to bless me like one of his dear lambs.

Learning humility is not an easy thing. It's one of those traits of character that you lose as soon as you realize that you might have developed it.

Every day is another chance to receive the kingdom of God like a little child.

Don't miss your chance.

FREEDOM DAY- SUNDAY, MARCH 25TH (2PM TO 7PM), Vanguard University.

Here's a great FREE event coming up next Sunday afternoon that I want to invite you to.

I'll be there along with event host Greg Russinger (my friend), and several hundred others who are concerned about human trafficking, children-at-risk and slavery.FREEDOM DAY Event website:

The event is being endorsed by various organizations including International Justice Mission, WorldVision International, STOP the Traffik, Soliton Network, The Salvation Army, and several universities.

[Subversive Underground] has also committed to help promote the event.

The idea behind Freedom Day is to mark the 200th anniversary of whentransatlantic slavery was abolished in Europe, and to remind the worldthat slavery--human trafficking--still exists. March 25th is a callto awareness and action in our own backyard, and in our world.

REGISTRATION IS FREE!Just click on the website to register,and see more info.

Even if you can't join us, please help us spread the word.
Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis are on board. So are worship leaders Cindy Rethmeier (Vineyard Music) and John Thomas (Soul Survivor USA).
Only 100 seats will be made available.
A few more details are online here:
CHASING THE DRAGON- Jackie Pullinger's classic book is being re-released in May of this year by Gospel Light and Regal Books, just in time for the NON-CON promotion!! If you've never read this amazing book you need to pick up a copy and read it before the NON-CON next March.
Book Description:
Inside of Hong Kong lies the infamous Walled City. Strangers are not welcome there. Police hesitate to enter. It is a haven of filth, crime and sin. Prostitution, pornography and drug addiction flourish. Thirthy thousand people-maybe twice that-live in a few cramped, dismal acres.

Jackie Pullinger had grown up believing that if she put her trust in God, He would lead her. When she was 20 years old, God called her to the Walled City. She obeyed. And as she spoke of Jesus Christ, brutal hoods were converted, prostitutes retired from their trade, and heroin junkies found new power that freed them from the bondage of drug addiction. Hundreds discovered new life in Christ. Chasing the Dragon tells the whole amazing story-exactly as it happened."

Thursday, March 08, 2007



Nobody follows Jesus anymore. Just look around, and you'll see what I mean. How often do you ever see someone show love to a person who is in their face? Have you ever once heard of anyone chasing a thief down the street screaming, "Hey, you forgot my DVD player!" or witnessed a person who has just been slapped in the face turn their head to offer the other cheek?

I doubt it.

That's my point. Jesus had some pretty radical teachings. Love your enemies. Pray for those who abuse you. Give to those who steal from you. Lend without expecting anything in return. Bless those who curse your name.

Even the most casual glance at the words and teachings of Jesus will tell you this guy had unreasonable expectations of those who would dare to follow Him. It was almost as if He was trying to thin the crowd by raising the bar so high.

He doesn't stop there. No sir. Jesus even goes so far as to say that those who follow Him must deny themselves and take up their own cross (an instrument of brutal torture and death). In fact, He says if you don't do this, you "cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).

No wonder no one follows Jesus anymore.

Now, I'm not suggesting people don’t believe in Jesus anymore. There are millions and millions of people out there who really do believe a guy named Jesus actually lived 2,000 years ago. They believe that He was the Son of God, and God the Son, and that He lead a sinless life, died on the cross for their sins and rose bodily from the grave three days later. Yep. They all believe that. But, those people don't necessarily follow Jesus the way He expected them to.

Maybe that's why Jesus wondered out loud, "When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Maybe He knew after 2,000 years of Christianity, we'd just have given up on following His specific example of how to live.

G.K. Chesterton once said, "It's not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting; it's that it has been found difficult and left untried."

I think Jesus really did expect His followers to live extravagant lives of love as He commands in Luke 6:27. He wasn't kidding around.

He's pretty clear that the kind of love the world has is nothing special at all. "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that" (Luke 6:32).

Jesus was trying to get His potential followers to understand they were expected to model a standard of love that went far, far beyond what anyone living on this planet had ever encountered or dreamed of before. A kind of love that could change someone's life for eternity.

Once you understand this, it starts to make more sense. Jesus calls His followers to this kind of life for a reason—so we can show those who aren't aware of the kindness of God what it means to be loved, forgiven and shown mercy.

Yes, Jesus expects us to actually do these things.

Yes, it will hurt.

Can you think of a better way to show those who are far from God that He really loves them, Christianity is the "real thing," and forgiveness is for them?

Imagine a world where we all actually did this stuff on a daily basis.

Would it change the world? Would it change the world's idea of Christianity? Of Christ? Would it set the teachings of Jesus apart from every single other religious figure who had ever lived?

Isn't it ironic to think the most radical thing a modern Christian could do today would be to simply do exactly what Jesus says? Yeah, it's really a shame that no one really follows Jesus anymore. But, can you imagine what would happen to the world you live in if even a few people actually did?

Not only that, Jesus promises those who actually do put His words into practice will be blessed and have life abundantly. Maybe it's time to start following Jesus? Maybe it's time to take Him seriously? What do you think?

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock". - JESUS (Matthew 7:24).

It is sort of sad, but we can't help but face the awful truth. Jesus doesn't seem to inspire followers anymore.

Christian author Dallas Willard once said, "There is absolutely nothing in what Jesus himself or his early followers taught that suggests you can decide just to enjoy forgiveness at Jesus' expense and have nothing more to do with him."

Noted theologian A. W. Tozer once remarked that "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."

What we have in modern American Christianity is a brand of religion that says to its founder, "I'd like a little of your blood to cover my sins, but I don't care to follow you or take your teachings seriously. If you would please excuse me, I’ll get on with my life. See you in heaven Jesus!" Dallas Willard calls those kinds of people "Vampire Christians" because all they want is some of Jesus blood, but none of His leadership.

Does this make any sense? Does this sound to you like what Jesus had in mind for His church?

Why would anyone align him/herself with someone as radical as Jesus and then totally ignore His teachings?

What if you met a guy who said he was a Muslim, but after interviewing him you discovered that he didn't read the Koran, didn't attempt to live his life according to the teachings of Mohammed, didn't seek to become more like a person who modeled Islam, etc. In what way would that guy be considered a Muslim? You could say the same of a Buddhist or a Mormon or whatever.

Clearly, Jesus taught and expected that those who followed Him would put His words into practice and respond with obedience.

"We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, 'I know Him,' but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did"- (1 John 2:3).

In my Bible I’ve penciled the word "Yowza!" right next to that verse. You might want to do that too.

According to this verse, and many others in the New Testament, the way to know for yourself whether or not you have actually come to know Jesus is to ask yourself if you're obedient to Him or not.

Jesus did spend a lot of time on the subject of obedience. He seemed to really stress it. He seemed to really expect that we would obey Him and seek after Him and encourage each other to do the same.

I've been looking at the verse where Jesus speaks to those on His right and on His left at the Judgement seat. Both sides call Him "Lord", and both sides did the same works, but only one group was allowed into the Kingdom— the group that showed compassion to the sick, the hungry, the poor and that "knew" Jesus. (Suggesting that they did these acts of mercy BECAUSE they truly "knew" Jesus and were responding out of a heart of love). - see Matthew 25

Jesus was also careful to warn us that just because we call Him "Lord" doesn’t mean that we'll actually see the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus states, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21).

The Great Commission that Jesus left to his church had discipleship and obedience built into it. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." - JESUS- (Matthew 28: 19- 20).

How many churches do you know of that offer classes like "How To Love Your Enemies"? Virtually no church on the horizon has any real, practical method of actually training their flock on how to go about obeying the teachings of Christ, and yet, this is exactly what Jesus left us to accomplish.

It makes one wonder, what are we doing with our time? What is the church about if not training us to be followers of Christ himself?

I have to be fair. After I started thinking about this column, I tried to remember how many people I knew who had ever actually lived out the teachings of Christ and I did find one person.

My friend David used to be the Children's pastor at my previous church. He and his wife helped my family get through a very difficult year and a half when I was without gainful employment after I was laid off. That alone was an amazing thing for me, but then David and his wife did something that astounded me even more.

Even after seeing the difficulty we were going through, they willingly quit their jobs, sold everything they owned and entered the mission field, taking their three children with them. I can't think of anything else more amazing than that. For a follower of Christ to take Jesus so seriously that they would enter a life of complete surrender and submission like that astounds me. It blesses me. It challenges me.

Maybe there's hope yet for this generation? Maybe there really are followers out there who really do take Jesus seriously, and choose willingly to surrender themselves to His authority?

I pray their tribe will increase.

I want to be in that tribe.


I'm in the middle of planning the last-minute logistics for the "" Conference right now.

I hope you enjoy this "Classic" article from my [Subversive] column over at all those years ago...

Thursday, March 01, 2007


by Keith Giles

In about 8 days my current contract will expire and I will be back on the job-hunt again. Possibly I could return to temping in the cubicle farms. Part of me almost assumes that this is where God will send me next.

The last two months have been a sort of vacation from the monotonous data entry jobs I had been doing since June of last year. About the time I really started to understand that this process was God's very purposeful plan to kill my flesh, this conference promotion contract came up and I got to escape that for a while.

I felt even then that I had really not yet finished having my flesh crucified in this very painful way. I think it's possible that God may ask me to return to the cubicle farms to lay myself down on the cross beam of humiliating, flesh-destroying work so that He can continue to drive the nails through my flesh and put me to death.

I need this. I know I do. This is not a bad thing. This is not punishment. This is God's Grace to me.

There are things that God wants to do through me that He cannot do until this last part of my arrogant, prideful, selfish flesh is totally dead. I really want to go with Jesus where He wants me to walk, but I do understand that I cannot get there as long as I am carrying this self-seeking, vain, prideful part of myself.

Several friends have prayed for me recently that God would bless me "beyond my wildest dreams" and provide a job that would fit my gifts and provide for our family in abundance, etc.

While I greatly appreciate those prayers, and I do hope that God does that, there's a part of me that really doesn't believe or expect that He will do so.

I started wondering why I thought this. Why don't I expect for God to bless me with a killer job and a more abundant bank account and insurance for my family, etc.?

Is it because I don't believe that God is good? No. I know He is good. In fact, during the last few months I've really seen the tangible proof of His goodness to me. I know He is good.

Is it because I feel I don't deserve this? No. I already know I don't "deserve" anything from God. It's all gravy. I've never once received anything from Him that I "deserved" (and that's something to be thankful for in itself).

I was praying for a friend recently who had fallen pretty hard. As I prayed I saw my friend and I saw The Lord placing a big, gold medal around her neck. I told her that God really wanted to reward her, which considering her moral failure sounded odd. Why would God want to reward her for the last few weeks of wallowing in her sin?

I told her that God's Grace and Mercy were not based on merit, or on what we deserve, but on His amazing love for us and because He looks on the heart and He knows she loves Him.

Even as I prayed this for my friend I realized that this was for me too. God wanted to bless me too, and not because I deserved it (because I've never once deserved any of His blessings), and not because I expected it, but simply because He is my Father in Heaven and He loves me.

Is there a ribbon around your neck? Do you believe that God wants to reward you simply because you are His?

Mercy, by definition, is doing good to someone who doesn't deserve it. That's the point. If they deserved it, it would be justice. So, when God blesses me, in spite of my obvious failures, that is His Mercy.

"If you being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" -JESUS (Matthew 7:11)

I love that Jesus assumes we are sinners. I even love that he so blatantly says this to the faces of the people who are standing and listening to him speak. Of course we are evil. He is not shocked by our failures. His default position is that we are evil. It's part of who we are, without His transformational Grace of course.

But God promises that His Mercies are new every morning: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23)

In Micah, God tells us what it is that He requires of us. If you've never read it, the list goes like this; "He has shown you oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

We're told to "do justice" (which is to see what is wrong (unjust) and make it right. So, when we see someone being opressed, we speak out. When we see someone without enough to eat, we take care of them.

We're also expected to "Love mercy". That's not the same as "doing mercy". We're just told to love it. That means, when we see someone who doesn't deserve a blessing being blessed, we should rejoice. But, honestly this is where I think I struggle the most. When I see someone who has done evil, or made a huge mistake, get a break or a blessing, my first reaction is usually not "Oh, Yes!"

Still, when God shows mercy to me, I tend to get excited and share my joy with everyone. What I need to learn is to rejoice when God allows His Mercy to fall on everyone, regardless of who they are or what they've done.

Lastly, God tells us to "walk humbly with our God". This is also not easy. Humility is surrender. It's being weak. Humility is necessary to enter the Kingdom. It's the complete surrender of the will, the true self, to God alone.

I pray I can learn to love mercy, to rejoice when good things happen to bad people. I pray that I can learn to walk humbly with God and remember that I am dust. I pray that I can learn to do justice, to make things right whenever I can, however I can, every day of my life.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - JESUS (Matthew 7:7-11)


"IN CONTROL" - One of my articles is now online at "The Ooze" ( For me this is a very big deal, actually. I've never had anything published here and it's a very great site for thought-provoking articles. Go and check it out. Leave a comment if you like.

JACKIE PULLINGER:"Non-Con 08" - Not sure if anyone knows her or not. If you don't, you owe it to yourself to google her name and listen to a few of her mp3's. She's seriously one of my heroes in the faith. Yesterday I got an email from her that she's interested in coming to join us for Non-Con 08 next March. I am stunned.
THE GOOGLE GROUP: There are a few of us already discussing stuff and meeting one another online at the Google Group I invited everyone to last week. If you haven't joined us, please do. If you need another invite, shoot me an email here: