Tuesday, May 29, 2007


RECEIVE by Keith Giles


“He has showed you, O man, what is good.

 And what does the LORD require of you?

 To act justly and to love mercy

 and to walk humbly with your God” – Micah 6:8



I sat in my car and tried to blink back the tears as I held the check in my hand. It was for the exact amount we needed to pay our rent, cover our medical insurance, and pay for the registration and inspection on our car, all of which were due the next day.


I was overwhelmed, not so much by the amount of the check, or the miraculous nature of the timing of the gift, but mainly because this check meant that God really was listening to our prayers. He was actually aware of our needs and He had just moved, at the perfect time, to provide exactly what we needed.


An anonymous person had given this money to the church in our name. A few people were aware that I was out of work, but no one, not a single person, knew exactly what our financial need was, or that we needed this exact amount on this very day.


That evening, as my wife and I were getting ready to turn out the lights and go to sleep, we held hands and began to pray.  I had been struggling to find gainful, full-time employment for over a year. Anonymous gifts like the one we had received that day had been commonplace during this time, as were many other miraculous blessings from neighbors and friends and family. Without these blessings our family would not have survived the ordeal.  However, my prayer that night was not the gratitude-filled prayer you might expect after such an amazing day.  Instead, as I closed my eyes to pray, the words on my tongue were mainly words of complaint.  “If you can work such a miracle like this one today, then why can’t you simply give me a job? I want to be able to provide for my family on my own, without depending on the last-minute miraculous check in the exact amount we need to survive,” I started to say to God.


But, before I could utter those words, while they were still in my heart, assembling in the speech center of my brain, a picture formed in my mind that silenced my thoughts before I could speak them.


It was a picture of Jesus, with a towel around his waist. He was kneeling at my feet and he was starting to wash them with a towel.  Immediately I understood that I was doing what Peter had done in the same moment. I was demanding that Jesus stand up. I was proudly asserting my own ability to wash my own feet without anyone’s help, even the help from my Lord, Jesus.


“Oh Lord,” I whispered, again blinking back tears, “Please give me the grace to let you wash my feet, even when it’s so painful for me.”


I learned that day that it’s not only better to give than to receive, it’s also a whole lot easier too.


Over the years I’ve experienced this many times. Showing mercy to someone is always a lot easier than receiving mercy from someone, because receiving mercy means admitting your weakness and embracing your inability to do things for yourself.


It takes humility to receive mercy from another person. That’s why sometimes serving the poor can be difficult because there are times when people are not willing to humble themselves in order to receive the help they desperately need.


I’ve also learned that sometimes we cannot receive mercy from others, or from God, because we’re unwilling to humble ourselves.


“God opposes the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)


Lately I’ve discovered another barrier to receiving grace and mercy. It’s guilt.


The thing about mercy is, it has to be undeserved in order to really be qualified as mercy. Because of this, the verse above from Micah has always been a difficult one for me. It says that God requires that we “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly”.  The part about loving mercy is difficult, (not that the entire list isn’t challenging, mind you), because it means we are supposed to rejoice when we see someone get a great blessing that they do not deserve. 


If I’m honest, when I read about someone who receives a blessing I tend to get negative if I feel they don’t deserve it.  I am not quick to celebrate when something wonderful happens to a person I consider unworthy of that blessing.  But, according to this verse in Micah, God requires me to do so.


If the person who received the blessing, or the forgiveness, deserved it, then it wouldn’t be mercy.  That would be justice. We’re commanded to do acts of justice, to make right the things that are not right and to act on behalf of the oppressed and the poor. That’s justice.


But God commands us in Micah to “Love mercy”, which means we are to have an attitude that rejoices whenever God moves to forgive or bless or love someone whom we might consider unworthy of that gift.


This means we have to love mercy when God extends it to us. I say this because sometimes we reject God’s mercy to us based on whether or not we feel like we deserve it.  When we sin, or when we fail those we love the most, we might want to wallow in our pain and our misery longer than necessary because we think we haven’t suffered enough for our crimes. This keeps us from healing, and from moving forward in our journey with God, out of the darkness of our sin and pain, and into the merciful light of His love and favor.


Guilt is a powerful barrier to Mercy. I know that there is such a thing as Godly sorrow for our sins. In fact, it’s a necessary component for our journey with God. Without this we cannot receive the Grace of God. But sometimes we can allow our guilt and our shame to drive us deeper into the darkness and away from the outstretched hand of mercy. I’ve seen this happen to a friend who continually struggles with addiction. I’ve seen this happen to a friend who has been unfaithful to a spouse. I’ve even seen this happen to people who have lost loved ones through no fault of their own, but their sorrow and self-imposed guilt, drives them farther and farther away from the mercy that can set them free.


Sometimes we avoid mercy because we don’t feel as if we’ve suffered enough. We begin to hate ourselves for being so weak, so foolish. We find it impossible to forgive ourselves for the great pain we have caused those who love us more than we deserve. So, we hang on to our misery and our guilt in order to prolong our agony and extend our punishment. We refuse mercy because we don’t feel like we deserve it.


It’s true, we do not deserve this forgiveness. We are not worthy of such love. And that is exactly the point. That’s why it’s called “Mercy”.


If you find it difficult to “Love Mercy”, I invite you to pray and ask God to give you a heart like His. Sometimes we need a new perspective on things before we can understand that, in God’s Kingdom, things are often upside-down compared to the world we were born into. People who do not deserve forgiveness, or love, are the very ones who need it the most. Remember that.


If you’re finding it hard to receive the mercy of God, I encourage you to pray and ask God for the strength to let go of your shame and your need to suffer for your own pain. Jesus has already endured all of your pain, all of your suffering, on the cross.  Now it’s time to receive the undeserved mercy and step forward into the light.






REPLY: To respond, DO NOT hit "reply" because I WILL NOT get it! Instead, email me directly at "elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"

NON-CON '08: Mark your calendars for March of 2008 and keep checking over at WWW.NON-CON.COM for new updates on registration, location, and finalized dates for this one-of-a-kind experience with Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis.

NEED A SPEAKER?- This summer I will be available to speak at churches, conferences, events, pool parties, etc., and to lead workshops on issues of Social Justice, Spiritual Formation, The Kingdom of God, and House Church/Simple Church. To contact me please email me at the address above. Dates are limited and mid-August is already booked.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007


by Keith Giles

On Thursday of last week our family got quite a disturbing letter. It was from the IRS. As you may know, they are not prone to mailing out greeting cards or words of encouragement.

We had only just scraped in at the tax filing deadline due to some mix-ups with one of my previous employers. That was stressful enough, but now we had another test to face.

When my wife opened the letter she admitted to me that she was quite angry. Not so much at the IRS, but honestly, at God. We've been through a good solid ten months of trial and testing already. It seems we've gotten very good at reminding God of our troubles and keeping mental lists of all of our struggles handy in case He's forgotten.

Now we had to face yet another challenge to our faith, and our sanity. According to our friends at the IRS we had mis-filed our taxes and they were not allowing us to claim the earned income credit. This meant we owed them about $2,000, which of course, we did not have.

I've been doing contract work and temporary assignments with various agencies and organizations these last ten months to make ends meet. God has been faithful to us through it all, although we are quick to forget this whenever the next tragedy strikes.

Truthfully, at times like this we are prone to believe that God has forgotten us. Sometimes we even wonder if He is watching over us at all. We begin to hang our heads and we complain and grumble to God. We ask Him how He could allow this to happen to us. "Haven't we suffered enough, God?"

So, of course we shared our pain with our House Church family at The Mission and asked for prayer. What we needed was a miracle, really. To cover the $2,000 we'd have to put it on our credit card and do our best to pay down the debt over the next year or so.

So, over the weekend, my wife and I went back over our taxes again to see what we had done wrong. We thought we found the error and discovered a secondary form we had neglected to file the first time which, if our friends at the IRS would allow, might get us out of the jam.

On Monday my wife called and spoke with an IRS representative on the phone. They went over the taxes line by line together. Then they discovered that the IRS had actually made a mistake. Our debt was erased and they now owed us $200.

That was when my wife mentioned that secondary form we had neglected to file in the beginning. The woman from the IRS said that we could apply that to our taxes now since they had re-opened our file for this investigation. She said she would go back through our taxes and call us back in a few hours to let us know the results.

While our family was eating dinner on Monday evening our phone rang. It was our friend at the IRS. She informed us that we should be expecting a check from the IRS in the amount of $1,989.00 in about three weeks.

When we heard the news our family started worshipping God together. I grabbed my guitar and started playing, "Your love is amazing, steady and unchanging..." and our family sang together around the dinner table. We wiped away tears. We laughed and we cried. We thanked God for His amazing faithfulness.

As I looked at my wife, in our moment of joy, she said, "So this is why God allowed our taxes to be flagged. So that He could give us an extra $2,000!"

We both repented of our grumbling to God just days before. We could see now, from the other side of this ordeal, that God really WAS at work on our behalf the entire time. In fact, if God hadn't allowed the IRS to question our taxes, we would never have discovered the treasure He was intending to give us from the beginning.

I wish I could say this is the first time that God has turned a dark cloud into a shower of blessing. It's not. I wish I could say that, without a doubt, the next time this happens I will remember the goodness of God. My track record isn't that great.

That's why I am so comforted to know that God remembers that we are dust. He is faithful to us, even if we are faithless. He is good to us, even when we complain.

I used to read the Exodus account and wag my head at those faithless Israelites who continued to doubt God and complain and grumble at Him, even though only a few pages earlier God had worked mighty miracles on their behalf. "How could they doubt?" I'd wonder.

As I've grown older I've begun to realize that I am just like those stubborn, dull Children of Abraham who crossed the desert so full of doubt and so quick to complain. God knows it too. I often say, "God isn't looking for a few good men. He already knows there aren't any."

I am reminded of what God commanded Joshua to do when the Children of Israel had crossed over the Jordan as God held back the waters and allowed them to walk on dry ground to the other side. After everyone had crossed over, God commanded them to have one man from each of the twelve tribes go back into the bed of the Jordan river and hoist a large rock on their shoulder to carry back on to the Jericho side so that they could build an altar that would stand as a remembrance of what God had done for them that day.

At times like this, when God moves in an amazing way, I think it's important for us to have a "Stone of Remembrance" too. God knows us. He knows we are quick to forget His goodness, especially when the next challenge rises up.

Our children need to remember these times too. We need to allow the testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness to have more weight, more texture, than our intangible fears and foolish doubts.

Today I have resolved in my heart to remember the goodness of God. I want to do whatever it takes to hold fast to these memories of God's amazing grace to me. I want my lips to be quick to praise Him, to believe the best, no matter what my eyes may see in front of me.

Maybe I need to walk out into my backyard and search for a large stone? Something heavy to fit in my hand like a tangible chunk of faith, a solid testimony of hope for the seasons of doubt that are sure to come again one day.

We cannot forget. We must always remember. God is good. His love endures forever.

I'm going to find a rock now.

NON-CON '08: Mark your calendars for March of 2008 and keep checking over at WWW.NON-CON.COM for new updates on registration, location, and finalized dates for this one-of-a-kind experience with Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis.

NEED A SPEAKER?- This summer I will be available to speak at conferences, events, pool parties, etc., and to lead workshops on issues of Social Justice, Spiritual Formation, The Kingdom of God, and House Church/Simple Church. To contact me please email me at the address above. Dates are limited and mid-August is already booked.


Saturday, May 19, 2007


(But Probably Doesn't)

#6 - "We ARE The Church!"

Several years ago my wife and I helped some friends of ours plant a new church in Tustin, California. At the time I was longing to leave my job as a program manager at Ingram Micro in order to return to full-time ministry. As it happened, I was laid off from that job and went on staff at this same church only a few months later.

My time on staff there was a great opportunity to try new things and to lead to start ministry to the poor in our community. Personally, I learned a lot during this time and it was because of this that my wife and I began to feel a calling to start a new church-plant of our own.

At first my assumption was that we would plant another church much like the one we were currently on staff with. I envisioned a traditional church-plant with a small team of leaders meeting in a rented gymnasium somewhere in a neighboring city trying to coax the unchurched into our meeting each week.

Then something happened that changed all that. I had developed a strong desire to serve the poor during this time and I knew this would be a high value for the new church we started. However, one day I came across an article by Ray Mayhew entitled,"Embezzlement" (which is available as a free pdf download over on my main website at www.keithgiles.com btw). In this article, Mayhew looks at the high value that the early church placed on caring for the poor. He shares how the New Testament church considered all of the tithe as belonging to the poor and not to themselves. At no time did the offering ever go to building structures or purchasing equipment, in every case the offering belonged to the poor, the orphan, the widow and the sick. This realization galvanized my vision of establishing a body of believers who valued the poor beyond their own comfort and safety. My wife and I began to pray about how we could start a church here in Orange County, one of the richest counties in the Nation, with a committment to give 100% of the tithe to the poor and keep nothing for itself.

I can remember the day Wendy and I realized the answer. We were sitting on our bed talking about how great it would be if people could know that all of their tithe was going to help single Moms pay their rent, or to provide food for the homeless, or to assist the elderly to buy their prescription medicine. We were trying to figure out how we could realistically afford to run a church and still give all of our offerings to those in need. Wendy looked at me, and I looked at her, and almost at the same time we realized, "We're talking about a House Church". In that moment, if Wendy had laughed at the idea and told me I was crazy I think we would have found a compromise to our dilemna, or perhaps we never would have started a house church at all. Instead, she nodded her head and smiled. "You're right. It's a house church," she said.

When we first told our friends what we envisioned doing, many looked at us as if we had three heads. To be honest, I felt like I was insane whenever I tried to explain it to people. It just seemed so crazy and so "out of the box" to me, because no one I knew had ever done this before. I had grown up in the traditional church. I had been licensed and ordained in the denominational church. My entire Christian experience was totally connected to the modern, organized way of doing church. To step outside of that structure in order to follow our calling seemed uncertain at best, and downright terrifying at worst. This was what it felt like to be a pioneer, loading up the buckboard with supplies and heading West into the great unknown with only your family, a few provisions, and a lot of faith.

There are times when people say that we have left the Church. In fact, more often that not, whenever I hear someone refer to those in the house church movement, it's to say they have "left the Church". This illustrates one key misunderstanding that I'd like to clear up.

If you have surrendered your life to Christ and have an ongoing, daily relationship with Jesus, then you ARE the Church! This means you cannot leave the Church. You can decide to worship in another way, or in another place, or outside the walls of an established, organized expression of the Church, but unless you break fellowship with other believers, or turn away from your daily walk with Jesus, you cannot, and you have not, "Left the Church".

Sometimes I believe that people within the organized Church use this statement as a tactic to black-list those who dare to venture outside their established realm. Not every time of course, but if more and more people get it into their heads that they can "do it themselves", this threatens the organized expression of Church. Pastors who attended seminary in order to make a vocation out of the ministry feel as if they are no longer necessary when those within the House Church movement suggest that a gathering of like-minded Believers meeting in a living room with only The Word of God and the Holy Spirit to guide them are actually viable "Churches"; as valid and as acceptable as those with professional clergy and staff.

The other tactic I see over and over again is the claim that House Churches are vulnerable to heretical doctrine, again because of the abundance of lay people and the absence of professional, seminary-educated pastors. I find this argument especially ludicrous, honestly. If you want to create an environment that is ripe for heresy, here's what you should do: Only have one person act as the vocal spiritual authority. Have that one person speak without interruption each week and when the doctrine is spoken have everyone stand up, get in their cars and go home until next week. Do not allow those people to interact with the speaker. Do not allow those people an opportunity to discuss the message that was delivered by the speaker. That is, historically, how heresy develops. One person, usually a charismatic figure with a slanted set of doctrines, leads a large group of people
to follow his private vision and interpretation of the Scriptures. Those people do not question the leader and they are not allowed to discuss or challenge his message.

In the House Church it is much more difficult to introduce heretical doctrines such as this. If one person begins to suggest a set of ideas or teachings that are in conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture, there are many others within the group who can challenge these thoughts and point out other Scriptures to correct any errors of doctrine. This keeps us from being lead astray by one person with a private agenda.

This is why the first Christians, meeting in homes, lead by the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, actually preserved all of the creeds and doctrines of Christendom for over 300 years! Whenever heresy developed it was almost always lead by one individual who had a different doctrine or a particular spin on an existing one. Those people attempted to lead others astray after their own brand of the truth. But the New Testament House Church (and there wasn't any other kind of New Testament Church), maintained the teachings of Christ and the Orthodox Faith we hold so dear
today without ever resorting to any other form of church. I find that fascinating, to be honest. I think that God revealed His genius when He inspired the eary Church to form a family-based, Spirit-lead group where love for one another, and for others (the poor, the sick, the outcast), was the main goal.

So, if you ever feel called to change the location of where you worship, or if you feel the need to change churches, or perhaps even to join a House Church, please never forget; You ARE the Church! Church is not a meeting you attend or a building you gather in. You are the Church as long as you have surrendered your life to Christ and you daily seek His face and follow His teachings. If you gather with other believers, in a gymnasium, under a tree, in a home, by the beach, etc., then you are the Church and you can never leave it, unless you completely turn away from Jesus and abandon the Faith.

One of the most amazing things I've discovered in leading a House Church has been in realizing that we are called to be the Church and not to attend one.

TO RESPOND: Email me at "elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"

PARTS 10 THROUGH 7 of this series are online at Ginkworld.net and also on the [Subversive Underground] Archives at

FOR HIRE: I am available this summer to speak at your conference, church or workshop on issues of Social Justice, Spiritual Formation, The Kingdom of God, Serving the Poor in Your Community and Simple Church/House Church. Just email me with the details of your event.

IN PROGRESS: My plan for this year is to publish my first book, "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" which is based
on the six-part series of articles I wrote for Neil Cole's CMA Resources and also for Ginkworld.net. The book version will include another six chapters of new material. Details to come.

KEEP PRAYING: These are still very trying times for my wife and my family and I as we attempt to discover God's direction and
provision. Thank you all for your prayerful support!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


by Keith Giles

One of the things I love most about Jesus is that he rarely says things that we expect him to say. He is more dangerous, more scandalous, more radical than our Sunday School teachers would have us believe. He speaks with such authority and a shocking sense of raw audacity that sometimes we are tempted to water down his words at times. Thankfully the writers of the Gospel felt no such need to pull any punches when it came to quoting our Lord.

In Matthew, right off the bat, Jesus gets things started with a teaching on forgiveness that seems overly harsh to our ears. He says, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
- JESUS (Matthew 6:14-15)

I don't know about you, but when I read those words they seem scandalous. All my life I've been taught that, if we just believe in Jesus and we pray for forgiveness, he instantly and totally forgives us and never remembers our sin ever again.

Of course, this is based on good, sound Scriptural evidence. God really does forgive us if we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), and he really does cast our sins in the sea of forgetfulness, and as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12).

However, Jesus teaches us something about forgiveness here that rattles the notion we only need to pray a prayer and go on our merry way in order to receive forgiveness. He suggests that our own forgiveness is conditional. If we do not forgive others who wrong us, then we will not be forgiven of our sins either.

That makes me squirm a little. Never, in all my days as a follower of Jesus, did anyone ever preach this from the pulpit. Maybe I was just attending the wrong sorts of churches growing up? I don't know. But, this sort of teaching from the mouth of Jesus, just seems to need a bit of what they call "Spin Control" in order to fly in our modern, American culture.

How can Jesus tell me that my forgiveness is contingent upon my being able to forgive others first? What is he talking about? Doesn't he know that if I believe in him I'm already forgiven from any sin I could ever committ? Doesn't he know that because of Grace I'm saved and guaranteed forgiveness no matter what?

If these words from Jesus seem harsh to our ears, perhaps it's because we've not understood that unforgiveness is also a sin. If we cannot forgive others, then we are guilty of this sin. Until we repent of our unforgiveness, we are continuing to wallow in our sins, refusing to truly repent. So, when Jesus tells us that we must first forgive others, he is stressing to us the importance of repentance, and the importance of practicing forgiveness ourselves when we are wronged.

That's another concept which lost to many of us these days; the idea of repentance. Our forgiveness is directly related to our repentance, not to our prayers. If we pray for forgiveness and we haven't repented of our actions, or our thoughts, then our prayers are just words and our sins are not forgiven.

Forgiveness is not some cosmic "Aw Shucks" from God just because we used the right formula, or magic words, in our prayers. Forgiveness is based on our honest repentance; our sorrow for the action, not just the consequences, and our sincere intention not
to do the action again. It is also based on the finished work of Christ upon the cross on our behalf. If we have repentance but we don't have Jesus, then we have no way to receive forgiveness from God. If we have Jesus, but we have no true repentance in regards to our sins, we do not have forgiveness from God. We must have true repentance, combined with an acceptance of Jesus and what he accomplished on our behalf by the Cross, in order to receive forgiveness.

There have been times when I have been severely wounded by a friend, or a brother in Christ. Nothing hurts worse than this. To be betrayed by someone who should be supporting you and loving you is especially painful. What I've learned is that, if I can pray for this person to be blessed by God, my hardness of heart usually melts and I find I can really forgive them for what they've done to me.

The most recent example of this was when I was praying for someone who had really hurt me with his words, and his actions. I felt betrayed and I wanted to strike back in some way. Instead, I found myself on my knees asking God to bless his family, his business, his marriage, his children, his ministry, and as I prayed for God to bless him, my heart melted and I found I really did love this person. By the end of my prayer, I found I really did want God to bless him. Not only that, God reminded me during my prayer of the many times I had done and said the exact same things to others in the past, and how He had forgiven me effortlessly for the same crimes. I remembered how good it felt when God forgave me and extended His Grace to me, and then it became easier to pass this same Grace on to my brother in Christ.

Someone once said that when you forgive someone the person you set free is yourself. I believe it's true. A great illustration of this is found in Africa where they have a unique method of capturing certain monkeys. They place a bannanna inside a jar which is tied to a tree by a rope. When the monkey puts his hand inside the jar, he cannot pull out the bannana because the opening is too small for both his hand and the fruit. Those who want to capture the monkey need only to walk up to him and cut the rope, placing the monkey and the jar in a large bag. The monkey hasn't learned that, in order to escape capture, he only needs to let go of the bannanna. In the same way, our unwillingness to let go of our pain only serves to imprison us. Like the monkey trapped by his own grip around the bannana inside the jar, if we could just let go, we would be free.

This week I got to counsel someone who simply could not let go. This person could not pray for the one who had done the harm.
Sometimes this is the hardest thing for us, to forgive, to let go, but we at least have to be willing to let God help us to forgive. We have to begin by praying for those who wrong us. We have to recognize that unforgiveness is a sin, and we have to repent of that sin in order to receive forgiveness ourselves.

"Love your enemies, and do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
-JESUS (Luke 6:28)

If you're finding it hard to forgive someone right now, I urge you to pray for that person and begin to ask God to bless this person in very specific ways. If you can't bring yourself to do that just yet, at least ask God to help you get to a place where you really can bless this person. Sometimes, however, we have to take the first step whether or not our feelings match up.

Corrie Ten Boom, who survived the Nazi concentration camps, tells of meeting one of the Nazi soldiers who had participated in the death of her sister. In her book "Tramp for the Lord" (1974), she recounts the story of how, after she had been preaching in Germany in 1947, she was approached by one of the cruelest former Ravensbruck camp guards who tearfully asked for her forgiveness. She was understandably reluctant to forgive him and tells of how she looked at him and wanted only to hate him for his deeds. Yet, she remembered the words of Jesus and she lifted her hand, heavy like a stone, and placed it on the shoulder of this elderly man.

She says, "For a long moment we grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then." She also wrote (in the same passage) that in her post-war experience with other victims of Nazi brutality, it was those who were able to forgive who were best able to rebuild their lives.

Sometimes we cannot afford to wait for the emotions to catch up to our actions. Sometimes we have to take a step of faith and forgive because we know it's the right thing to do.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
- Colossians 3:13

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


How is it we can become numb to the amazing love of God for us? God's Word tells us that His love for us is everlasting, unfailing, and eternal. God thinks about you. He sings over you. He knows your name. He has a plan for your life. He wants to bless you. He loves to guide you into the right way. God's love is better than life. He is slow to anger and abounding in love. His love is shown to a thousand generations to those who love Him. His love surpasses knowledge. Because of His love we are saved, delivered and healed.

God loves you. Do you know that? Do you really believe that? Do you experience His love every day? Sometimes we need a good reminder of His continual, faithful love for us.

Here's how we can tell we don't "get it":
1) We keep searching for fulfillment in Earthly things
2) We fear to trust God with everything
3) We try to earn His favor or attention

Most of us have discovered that things don't bring us happiness. But until we stop living our lives for things (which are here today and gone tomorrow) we don't really "know" it yet.

God has proven that He is faithful over and over again, and that He, above all others, can be trusted. But, do we rest in that? Do we really trust in that continual, steadfast love? God really does have a better plan for our life than we can imagine. But until we trust God completely with everything in our life, until we let go of our life, we cannot really discover the joy of loving Him in Spirit and Truth.

We also know that God already loves us 100%. We can't make Him love us more or love us less. His faucet of love is already "on" full-blast! Yet sometimes we can start to serve Him because we think He will bless us more for our good deeds. Or we sometimes think that God owes us something because of all the great things we've done for Him. The truth is that we have already received the fullness of His love and we get the blessing of walking in His love every single day.

Because of this great, awesome, eternal, everlasting love we can live and love and serve others in confidence. We can count on God's continual goodness. We can count on Him to provide us with daily bread. He is faithful.

Every attribute of God is to the infinite degree. His love for us is infinite. His mercy is infinite. We can take comfort in this, although we will never have the ability to grasp even one facet of His character completely. Knowing this, even if we cannot understand it fully, can help take courage in our everyday life.

As Wendy and I are facing our tenth month without full-time employment, we are being challenged to live out what we know about God by faith. Because God has been faithful to us in the past, we can know that God will continue to be true to Himself and His character today...and tomorrow...even if we don't see it right now. God is faithful.

God has placed some challenges before us in the last few days that makes it difficult to live out our faith. We have to constantly remind ourselves that God is good and that He sees us and knows our need before we ask. Faith really is doing something about what you say you believe. We're doing our best to match up our belief with our practice, in more ways than one.

As we've said before, most of the testing we've endured hasn't been to reveal how good we are, but to reveal how good God is. Thankfully, He is really faithful. He is good. His love endures forever.

"For as high as the heavens are above the Earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him." - Psalm 103:11

Take courage! God really does love you..and because He has shown us love we can share this same love with others. That's the master plan. That's the only plan. Love others as you have been loved. Freely you have received, freely you should give.

You are loved!

*REPLY- If you want to reply to this article, please email me directly at "elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot) "com"

*GREATNESS? - If you've not read it yet, it's new to you! Check out the article over at www.seedstories.com

*HOUSE CHURCH- Now the website has a name. It's "www.MissionHouseChurch.com"

*THANK YOU- I sometimes can't believe that I've been writing this every week for over a year now. Thank you all for reading, for sending encouragement, for supporting me in my madness. It's good to know, when you're in the middle of the storm, that you're not alone. Blessings to each of you! You really are loved!