Wednesday, September 26, 2007


NOTE: This is the 99th [Subversive Underground] article. I need to think of something awesome to do for our next one, I guess.


Mary's Prayer by Keith Giles

"I've started to notice that there are a lot of prostitutes walking up and down Harbor boulevard," she said. "It would be great if we could find a way to help them escape that lifestyle," Kristin said.

At first I didn't know what to say. There were fifteen college students in our little circle and all of them were silently looking at Kristin, internally processing her words and slowly coming to terms with the magnitude of her suggestion.

Then everyone's eyes turned to me. I was leading a brand-new compassion ministry group in this small church for twenty-somethings. As part of our first meeting I had opened things up by asking those around me what needs they saw as they went through their day. My philosophy for compassion ministry has always been to start with what you see, and then responding with what you have. So, I threw out the question to this fledgling group of college students, "What needs do you see in this community?" That's when Kristin's response stopped the show.

Prostitutes? I had no idea what to do when it came to reaching out to prostitutes. All of my previous experience with serving those in need revolved around children, families living in motels, visiting senior homes and passing out free groceries to low income residents of a local apartment complex. Nothing in my experience had ever come close to ministering to prostitutes. Nothing.

As soon as I caught my breath I acknowledged Kristin's observation. I knew that since she was the one who had really seen these girls and been touched with compassion that it was probably Kristin who would drive the vision for this ministry. Almost immediately three other girls in our circle voiced a desire to serve these girls on Harbor boulevard. Before the meeting was over we had a team of four girls and three guys, one of whom was myself.

I encouraged everyone to be in prayer about this new ministry and I promised to do some research on the issue in the meantime. Surely, I supposed, there must already be some church or non-profit organization responding to the needs of these girls on the streets in Anaheim. I was wrong.

At first I called my friends at the local rescue mission, and then started researching materials on the statistics concerning prostitution here in Orange County, California. What I found was disheartening.

First of all, there was not one single church or ministry with an ongoing ministry to these girls. Not one. The best we could find was one small church where the pastor, a former police officer, randomly took a few people from his church out to pray for the girls. His expertise was invaluable, although we found his methods to be nothing more than "drive-by evangelism". It made everyone from his church feel good, but the girls themselves remained untouched and indifferent to the anonymous prayers of the saints.

I ended up doing a lot of research on my own and what I discovered was frightening.
Most girls who enter this lifestyle never leave it alive. If they don't leave this life of prostitution in the first six months, most of them won't try to leave until they've been in it so long that their lives are completely destroyed. The most successful programs boasted an 8% success rate, and this only after years of back-and-forth returns to the lifestyle, and to drugs. Most who tried working with these girls quickly discovered that removing a girl from this lifestyle can be nearly impossible, even when the girl wants to quit. Usually their pimps keep them hooked on heroin or other highly-addictive drugs to maintain control. Some of the pimps will even profess love for the girl and string her along for years with promises of "just one more month" before the wedding or the fairy-tale escape to the good life that never comes.

The most difficult situation to navigate involves the Russian Mafia. There are hundreds of girls in Southern California, and around the United States, who are brought here against their will, or under false promises of fame as a model or an actress, only to be forced into a life of prostitution. These girls are usually told that their families will be put to death if they try to escape, so even if they wanted to leave, and most of them desperately do want to escape this life, they are compelled to continue in slavery to their captors.

I don't know about you, but going up against the Russian Mafia, or some other Human Trafficking ring, isn't my idea of a service project. It's more like a terrifying adventure into a world that I should have better sense to avoid, especially as a husband and a father of two elementary-age boys.

So our little group of volunteers eventually took to the streets of Anaheim on a mission to meet some of these girls and build relationships with them, in hopes that one or two of them might be ready to leave their world of pain.

We prayed for a few girls, but most of them didn't want to give us more than thirty seconds of their time. I came home feeling like I had fired BB's at a Nuclear Submarine, and was less effective. We hadn't even scratched the paint on this one.

After a few feeble attempts like this one we eventually gave up the ministry, and I stepped away from that church in order to pursue a more stable employment and to lead our house church.

Last Sunday God re-opened this box. One of our newest families at "The Mission" wanted to know if I would be interested in leading a team out to serve the prostitutes we see out on Harbor. What could I say?

Isn't this exactly where Jesus, our Lord, would be if He were walking the streets of Orange County today? I know it is, and yet I feel so insignificant when it comes to serving these girls and helping them get off the streets and out of this lifestyle. I am only one person. I have a family I can barely provide for each month. I am pastoring a small house church and trying to love and serve the families on our street as an incarnational missionary. For over four years now I have been serving a local motel where families live in poverty. There are several individuals and families that I am committed to serving and helping and loving into the Kingdom of God already. How could I possibly add a ministry to prostitutes to my schedule?

This is not a part-time, weekend ministry. This ministry could easily consume my life and monopolize every hour of my day. I almost feel like the only way to really offer any lasting assistance to these girls would be to start a non-profit ministry aimed specifically at meeting their needs for counseling, shelter, job-assistance, day care services, drug and alcohol dependency, and self-esteem. I am not ready to start a non-profit ministry out of my house.

At the same time, I constantly feel a tension between being a writer who spurs others on to action and being a practitioner of compassion and justice myself. I never want to be someone who writes about issues but never gets involved. Maybe that's why this issue concerns me so much. I know that God's people should be doing something to help these girls. I am ashamed to realize that no one is doing anything to help these girls escape this lifestyle. How can I be disgusted at the lack of compassion in others when I have actually seen these girls, and prayed for some of them, and yet I have also done little to model the love of Jesus to them.

For now I continue to pray and ask the Lord to show me what He is calling me to do about this. Our house church group is praying now about how to step back into this ministry. We have a few ideas, but I want to make sure the Holy Spirit is really leading us.

Incidentally, if I were to start a non-profit ministry to prostitutes, and I'm not saying I ever would, but if I did...I'd call it "Mary's Prayer".


"Book Autopsies"

PREACH IT- I'll be preaching at Soul Survivor Church on Oct. 21st at 11am in Costa Mesa.
Come join us at:
Soul Survivor Church
1870 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
*Directly underneath the Edwards Cinema, on the corner of Harbor and 19th

If you're curious about what's new with "The Mission" we've got some photos from our most recent Motel Ministry and more at


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


(But Probably Doesn't)

*NOTE: This series is nearly complete. Every month we've been looking at one of the Top 10 things every Christian should know. This month we look at number 2 on our list, "Belief Is Not Enough (Or It's Not What You Think It Is)".

Part 10 through 3 are here:

PART 2 - "Belief Is Not Enough (Or It's Not What You Think It Is)"
by Keith Giles

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

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

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

I believe that what Jesus was trying to communicate in John 3:16 is the importance of living out what you say you believe, not simply saying what you believe and then living any way you please.

One way to express this is to ask yourself what it is you do each and every day of your life. I would suggest that Biblical belief can be expressed in the statement "Show me what you do, how you behave, and that is what you really believe".

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

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

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

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

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

I'm not suggesting that doctrine and belief are unnecessary. In fact, I feel that doctrine is quite important. But by itself it's not enough. In other words, if a group of people only believe that murder is wrong, but they don’t practice this belief, you’ll always have the occasional dead body to deal with. Practice matters.

The things we believe, really believe, will affect the way we live our lives. If we honestly believe that Jesus is God, then we will put His words into practice. If we say we do, but we live in a way that is contrary to His clear teaching, then perhaps we really don't believe in Jesus after all?

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

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

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

In the early church, the Christian faith was defined more by practice, not by doctrine. Doctrine is necessary to outline the scope of the belief system, but without anyone actually practicing those beliefs, it's all quite useless and empty.

Islam, Judaism and the early Christians were all defined by what they did (practiced) more than their specific doctrines (beliefs). Jews kept the Sabbath. Muslims prayed several times a day, Christians gave to the poor. Faith was seen as a way of life, not something contained in a list of beliefs.

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

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

I am also not suggesting that our actions affect our salvation, which is 100% the work of Christ and his act of sacrifice upon the cross. It is not our actions that save us, but our actions are evidence that we have been saved. Dallas Willard, one of my spiritual heroes, has a great quote about this. He says, "What you really believe about Jesus is revealed by what you do when you realize that you cannot do anything (to earn your salvation*)".

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

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

My concern is for those people out there who are placing a false hope in a statement of faith in Jesus who have never actually surrendered their actual everyday life to Christ. I'm also concerned that our world is full of people who walk around proclaiming themselves to be Christians yet live any way they want; in complete opposition to the commands of Jesus

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

The kind of knowledge Jesus is speaking of here corresponds with the idea of intense intimacy. In fact, it's closer to the word for sexual interaction. This is the kind of knowledge that conceives new life. This is the kind of intimate knowledge of God and of Jesus we are meant to have. It's not about knowing stuff, it's about knowing Him as a friend.

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

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

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

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

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

According to Scripture, the earliest disciples of Jesus were of the opinion that following Him was all about practice, putting your faith where your life is, not saying one thing and then doing another.

Trusting in Jesus, believing in Him, is about obedience to His commands, submission to His will, and an ongoing relationship with Him. Biblical belief is not about cerebral acknowledgement of a set of doctrines, it's about putting into practice with your life what you have come to believe in your heart and mind.

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

"Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." – James 2:18

Hard to believe, but the city of Orlando, Florida has made it illegal to feed the homeless or to give money to panhandlers after dark. Go read more here:

We need to share this info with everyone. Soon this kind of legislation will come to your city. We need to speak up now.

My article, "What If Jesus Could Be You For 24 Hours" is up now at

I've updated the site with groovy maps to the event, hotel info, workshop titles, and a schedule of events. Go check it out now:
*Online Registration Opens Soon!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


By Keith Giles

"I don't call myself a Christian anymore," John said. The passengers in the car with him all turned their heads and blinked. "What do you mean," the driver asked, "You mean you're not a Christian?"

John turned to the driver and shook his head. "No, I mean if a Christian is someone that claims they are following Christ, but is ok with living a worldly lifestyle, or is someone who has no concern for the needy and the poor, then that's not a person I want to be associated with. When people hear the word 'Christian', what they think of is the televangelist conning old women out of their social security money, or some guy in a three-piece suit telling people that God wants to make them rich. That's not what a Christian is to me," he said.

John had spent the weekend with these three other gentlemen on a fishing trip to the mountains. None of them were very close friends, but they shared a common love of fishing, and a faith in Christ. At least that's what they had all assumed at the beginning of their trip.

"You can't do that," the driver said.

John looked over at the man. "Do what?"

"You can't just decide to stop calling yourself a Christian because you don't want to be associated with a certain group of people," the driver said.

John smiled and said, "Why not? I mean, on the other hand I don't think any of us measure up to what a real, Biblical Christian looks like. When I read the book of Acts and I see their radical compassion for the poor and their willingness to sell property and possessions to share with anyone in need, I'm blown away because I'm not even close to having that kind of faith in God," he said. "What right do I have, do any of us have, to compare ourselves to people like that who had faith to give up everything to follow Jesus?"

As the discussion raged on, one of the four men sat quietly in the back seat and stared out the window. He was not much of a talker by nature, as the rest of them had already discovered early on in their weekend together. After the storm of dialog had quieted down he cleared his throat and said, "I'm like you, John. I call myself a Christian too, but I'm not a loving person. I don't love my wife the way I should," he said.

The other men in the car looked at one another, and then looked away in the silence of the car. John felt his eyes filling with tears for this man in the backseat. He knew that it was a very brave thing to admit, especially to a car full of acquaintances, but because of John's willingness to confess his weakness, this gentleman had found the courage to admit his own tendency to fall short of the Glory of God.

As John relayed this story to me, I was touched and challenged by what had transpired in that car. First, I was very proud of my friend for having the courage to say those sorts of things and provoke that sort of conversation. We could all use a bit more raw honesty in our lives, and this is the sort of thing I believe James had in mind when he said, "Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed." (James 5:16)

Secondly, I was inspired by the wisdom of John's statement concerning our identity as followers of Jesus. I whole-heartedly agree with him on both counts. The idea of someone equating what I believe and practice in my faith with what transpires on 99% of Christian Television makes me sick to my stomach. The last thing I'd want is for someone to hear that I'm a Christian and assume that I’m in favor of what these self-proclaimed spokespeople for Jesus spew out over the airwaves daily. At the same time, when the Bible describes the character of those earliest Christians, I am humbled by their radical compassion and somewhat ashamed to compare my life to theirs.

What if we all stopped identifying ourselves as Christians? What would we say the next time a co-worker asks us about our faith? How would we describe what we believe to a stranger at a party or that person next to us on the airplane?

Here's what I think I'll say from now on; "I have been fascinated lately with the person of Jesus. So, I've been reading books about his teachings, especially the Gospels, and doing my best to follow his wisdom in every area of my life."

It seriously excites me now to think about my next encounter of this sort. Imagine the honest conversation you can have with someone by simply identifying yourself as someone who is fascinated with Jesus. Personally, I can't wait to introduce myself as someone who is curious about the teachings of Jesus and who is learning how to put his words into practice. I think this is a far more compelling response to someone who inquires about our faith. Much more so than simply saying, "I am a Christian" which instantly polarizes everyone, shuts down any hope of conversation and creates an "Us vs Them" environment.

From this day forward, if anyone asks me about my faith, I want it to be known that I am not a Christian, at least not in the sense that it has come to be understood. Today, I am a follower of Jesus. I am someone who is fascinated with the person and teaching of Jesus and I am doing my best to put His words into practice.

I am not a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus. The saddest truth is that those two things aren't necessarily the same.

SERIOUSLY AWESEOME – You need to go to this website now. You need to bookmark it and go there often. It is classic. It is solid gold.

WHILE YOU WAIT- I've decided to release a collection of my earliest articles into one single book. It’s called "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" and it will be available as a .PDF download and as a paperback book in just a few weeks time. Watch this space for the release date. (And go on over to my main blog if you want a peek at the cover of the book –

ALMOST READY- My book, "The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" is still being released through Lulu Publishing later this year. Just hang on tight and this book will also be available online for purchase. Keep your eyes peeled.

RU REVOLUTIONARY? – Part 1 of my interview with USC Professor Scott Bartchy is online now at
Part 2 will be up later this week, I think.

SPEAK UP- I've been invited to preach next month at Soul Survivor Church in Costa Mesa, California on Sunday, Oct 21st. They're back to meeting at Triangle Square and they're now meeting at 11:30am. Mark your calendars and join us for the morning if you can.

Soul Survivor Church
1870 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
*Directly underneath the Edwards Cinema, on the corner of Harbor and 19th

NEXT WEEK- Keep me in your prayers next Thursday evening as I communicate the plight of the poor in Orange County to the "REACH" staff at Rock Harbor Church. Mike Kenyon, my friend and one of my biggest heroes in the faith, has invited me to share. God is doing great stuff with this church and I’m honored to spur them on as they serve the poor in Orange County.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Tension by Keith A. Giles

A friend of mine once noted that following Jesus is about finding balance in the midst of tension rather than attempting to seek resolution. This means that we are constantly being forced to evaluate every situation against the Word of God, and to go to our knees in prayer often to discover the answers and find our way. It means there are no formulas when it comes to seeking first the Kingdom of God.

At the moment I'm wrestling with something that doesn't have an easy answer. My wife and I are attempting to help someone who is in need. This person clearly needs help in several areas of life, but how to help is what I'm struggling with. I am walking in the tension between pure compassion and enabling a self-destructive, dependent behavior.

For me, to be a follower of Jesus involves sharing your life with those in need. I can't read the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 any other way than this. Those who truly belong to Him simply cannot walk past someone who is hungry, or naked, or poor, or lonely, or broken, and keep on going. For someone who has surrendered their own life to follow Jesus, compassion is automatic. It's who we are.

Honestly, I'm a bit of a push-over when it comes to helping people in need. If a stranger comes up to me and asks me for help, I really can't justify refusing them help, especially if it's within my ability to do so. I think this is because Jesus just doesn't ever provide any exit strategy for us when it comes to this. Jesus says, "Give to anyone who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:42) He also tells us to go the extra mile and to give away freely our shirt to the one who wants to sue us for our jacket. (Matthew 5:40)

Of course, this doesn't mean we have to give foolishly. If someone is begging for money because they want to eat, I'd suggest taking the time to buy them the food yourself and to sit down and spend time with them too. This is actually closer to what Jesus had in mind, I believe.

In fact, one friend of mine actually bought a homeless man a pack of cigarettes once, just to talk to him and get to know him. That's probably a little radical for most of us, but I don't think it's wrong if it means having permission to speak to someone about the Kingdom and demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to someone.

Over the years I've learned there's a difference between giving people what they need and giving them what they ask for. Often people ask for what they want (food, a place to sleep for the night, money, cigarettes, etc.), but what they really need is something else (like a job, freedom from their addictions, and a real friend for example).

The trick is, you won't learn what the person really needs unless you spend time with them, and that probably means, at least at first, giving them what they ask for. It will also mean an investment of your time and a sincere friendship with the person in order to arrive at the place in the conversation where you can communicate what is really needed and offer them real help.

Doesn't that mean you'll get ripped off once in a while? Of course you will. One fellow servant in our motel ministry once suggested that we try to help newbies to avoid getting burned. I vigorously disagreed with them and argued that getting burned is probably the best thing that could possibly happen to someone who takes a step towards the poor. Without getting burned you'll never learn the difference between a con and the truth. I've learned most of what I know from getting lied to, played and tricked by the people I was helping. And I still get burned sometimes. It goes with the territory.

The trick is to get burned and not loose your heart for the poor. If you can get ripped off and tricked and still completely love the next person God puts in your path, then you're on the right track.

I read a quote the other day that floored me. It said, "If all of the world's wealth were redistributed, there were still be two kinds of people: those who would use it and replace it because they could earn the replacement, and those who would use it and then be just as poor as ever." (Ralph Winter, editor of "Mission Frontiers")

The question then becomes, "What is the most loving thing I can do for this person?" and then doing whatever that thing is.

I love the verse, "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" (1 John 3:17) The real challenge, after you see your brother and take pity on him, is to determine what they really need.

How do we define "Help"?

I notice that Jesus often asked those whom he was about to heal if they wanted to be made well. (John 5:5-6) It seems like a silly question at first, but after attempting to help people over the years I've learned it's almost the only question that matters. "Do you really want me to cure you?"

The honest truth is, a lot of people who are homeless or in places of despair do not want you to remove the cause. "Do you want me to take away your desire for alcohol?", "Do you want me to remove your need for heroin?", "Do you want me to heal you?", sometimes the answer, surprisingly, is no.

I've actually had these sorts of conversations with people. When they are offered a free program to help them escape their addictions, they refuse. When they are given the chance to let go of their grief over a lost child, they cling tight. When they are faced with the opportunity to have their demons cast out, they admit that they like their demons. In cases like this, all you can do is walk away and pray that, when the day comes that they want to be healed, there will still be an opportunity for them to receive it.

In the specific case that my wife are dealing with now, we have a friend who may or may not be ready for their healing. It remains to be seen at this point, but I have hope that this person will respond and accept the chance to be made well, to find a way out of their destructive lifestyle, and to be healed of the wounds of the past.

So, what about you? Is there anything in your life right now that you're refusing to be cured from? Are you hanging on to an old grudge, or a tragic situation, or even an addiction or an illness? I would encourage you to let go of that and to receive the healing that Jesus is holding out to you right now.

He is near. The Kingdom is near.

"Do you want to be healed?"

My article "JESUS' FAVORITE QUESTION" is now online at


"This is one of the most important, thought provoking documentaries to come about in years.
It should shake the very foundation of Christianity and the Church as to the direction society is taking, and the direction of how we reach that society."

Just a reminder to watch for Rebellion of Thought on store shelves November 13th