*APOLOGIES- Last week's [Subversive Underground] was delayed by Feedblitz and I had to send it out manually on Monday. This is the first time I have ever missed a single week of this free, weekly e-newsletter in over 101 consecutive weeks. I apologize for this. Because of last week's article spilling over into this week, I'm sending you two [SU] articles this week in order to keep the article count on track. From now on I will manually send each weekly installment so that this doesn't happen again.
REFINED IN THE FIRE
By Keith Giles
As I sit here typing this I am breathing in the smell of smoke. All around me, hundreds of thousands of acres in Southern California are burning. Right now there are thousands of firefighters trying desperately to save people's houses from destruction with nothing more than a shovel, a fire hose and a prayer.
It's difficult to look at the map of California and see fire engulfing the center of the State, from the southern region of San Diego, through Orange County, and north to Riverside County, up into Los Angeles and even Ventura County, and not wonder if this is the end of the world.
I want to say that this is not God's Judgement on the State of California. When that comes I do believe we will know it and it will make this look like a trip to the beach. No, this is not God's Judgement on our State. I do believe, however, that is is a wake up call for many of us.
A few years ago, when I was still on staff at a local, traditional church, our offices burned to the ground. We lost everything. It was sudden and it was swift and it was merciless. It made us thankful for what we still had. It turned our attention away from what we wanted, and what we had lost, and onto what was really important in our lives. It made us grateful for the blessings in hand.
I don't think you have to have your actual house burn down in order to appreciate the lesson of the fire. You can see the devastation. You can watch people stoop to the ground and tearfully pull their damaged treasure from the ash. You can cry along with the elderly couple who had no insurance and now faces an uncertain future of homelessness, poverty, and destitution. You can take stock of your own life and the fire can redefine your definition of happiness.
My family has a saying we developed after enduring a season of prolonged unemployment. During those times we felt frustrated at the lack of financial freedom, or uncertain about where the money would come from to pay those upcoming bills, we would sit together and join hands and pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for giving us all we need, and a lot of stuff we don't. Remembering that my life was already full of God's favor and that we all had what we needed for that day helped me to refocus my heart and settle my soul.
Most of you who are reading this right now have plenty of food in your house. Many in our world, even in our neighborhood, do not. Most of us have a job, or at least some realiable source of income to look forward to. Many in our own city do not. Most of us have friends who love us, or a family who cares for us, or someone near to us who genuinely enjoys our company. Thousands in our nursing homes and homeless shelters and hospitals are all alone, forgotten and unknown.
The fire serves to remind us that we are human. We are fragile. Life is mutable. Things pass away. People, relationships and family are more important than houses or cars or personal belongings. Love is better than stuff.
The fire reminds us to help others. It awakens our sense of compassion for our fellow man. It causes us to whisper prayers for mercy. It brings out the best within us and burns away the selfishness and the pride and the empty pursuit of things…or at least, it should.
Jesus was always talking about something called "The Kingdom of God". He urged his followers to seek this first, above all other things. He wanted them to remember that our lives are not about what we wear, or what we eat, or where we live. He reminded us that God knows we need those things to live, and that God would take care of providing our needs if we would turn our attention primarily towards seeking after His Kingdom and and being made right with God in our hearts. (Matthew 6:30-35)
There is a lesson for us all in these fires. Remember what matters.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Jesus (Matthew 6:19-21)
Remember, you have everything you need, and a lot more that you don't.
GET MY NEW BOOKS FOR FREE! Yes, I've finally published my two books, "The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?" and "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" over at Lulu.com. You can purchase a paperback version of either book or you can download them both as a PDF file, totally free of charge. My main goal is to spread the ideas and thoughts contained in each of these books. I only make about $2 per book sold, so getting rich is not my goal here. If you want to purchase the book, I will be a very happy man, but don't feel bad about downloading the free PDF and then forwarding the link to all of your friends either.
Spread the subversive goodness.
NOT THIS SUNDAY- I will NOT be speaking at Soul Survivor Church this weekend. That was last week. (See above). Of course, if you still want to join them over there, those guys are awesome and God is doing great stuff in their Church these days. Tell'em Keith sent ya.
GREAT COMMENTS: Over at http://www.theooze.com there are 17 comments (so far) on my article "Destroy the (Christian) Subculture!" Part two will run on November 11th (two days after my birthday). Several people have told me that they've forwarded the article on to their own e-newsletter lists and some of those have also forwarded it onward. Viva la revolucion!
UPDATE ON HARBOR MINISTRY TO PROSTITUTES- Go read an update on our recent trip to serve the girls on Harbor blvd. at http://www.keithgiles.com/
NON-CON CANCELLED?? - Not yet. But I am praying about whether or not I should throw the switch or let it ride. You can pray for me that God would speak clearly about this and that I really hear from Him about doing this thing or not. More details are also at http://www.keithgiles.com under "Weekend Update". Next week we'll either announce that it's cancelled or open online registration and go for it. Keep praying until then.
PODCAST SERMON: "LIVING THE MISSIONAL LIFE" - If you use ITunes you can search "Keith Giles" under podcasts and listen to my sermon last week over at Soul Survivor Church. It's more of a conversation than a sermon, really. I purposely tried to engage people in a dialog rather than deliver a prepared speech. I think it came out ok. If you listen to it let me know what you think.