A NEW AGENDA
by Keith Giles
I spent last week in the mountains of Arkansas with my wife's family. It was a wonderful time to decompress from the regular weekly grind of life and breathe in the crisp, clean air. We took long hikes to remote waterfalls and explored ancient native american caves. We took time to play games, talk, eat, relax in the jacuzzi and sleep late.
During this time I had an opportunity to finish reading a great book called "Walk On" by Steve Stockman. It's an inside look at the spiritual journey of U2's Bono and The Edge which reveals a pervasive and tenacious faith in Jesus.
I had started out this vacation week making a list of ambitious schemes for 2008. These included, of course, the upcoming NON-CON in March, with Jackie Pullinger and David Ruis, but I also compiled a long menu of dream projects for the next year.
Here's a bit of what was on my list:
*A Poverty in the OC art show with my friend Scott Laumann.
*Start the "Manifesto" gatherings - Quarterly, local dialog sessions on Kingdom issues.
*Host monthly Orange County House Church Leader gatherings in my home.
*Film a series of YouTube videos on [Subversive Underground] topics for viral marketing project.
*Coffee House acoustic concert with my friend Jacob Wright.
*Publish the first issue of "0.0 magazine" with Scott Laumann.
*Launch the first "Wormhole" scavenger hunt with accompanying website culminating in a private discussion group on Kingdom/Subversive topics.
*Host quarterly "Subversive Seminary" sessions- Day long seminars taught by myself and other Mission House Church leaders on Kingdom topics.
*Self-Publish five new books starting with "The Power of Weakness" and "Top 10 Things Every Christian Should Know" in first quarter of '08.
*Help my friend Heather Wright put together her first solo art show.
That was a formidable list of things to do in the next 12 months. I began to get tired just looking it over. How would I really find the time to do all of this, I wondered?
But, as I continued to read the book my list started to shift in priority. Reading about how Bono had postponed their most recent album for over a year in favor of visiting national leaders in order to relieve debt to African nations and to combat poverty made me question my project list for '08. I started asking what on this list I needed to do and what I just wanted to do.
I was challenged to stop asking God to bless my plans and instead to just look at what God is already doing and to start doing that because it's already blessed.
What is it that God is already doing? What is on God's heart? What are the things I can do that will actually advance the Kingdom? What can I do to have a lasting impact on the lives of people? What can I do to help the poor? What can I do to live out the values of the Kingdom as Jesus describes in his Sermon on the Mount?
So, I know that God does want me to do the NON-CON in March. He's made that clear to me by not allowing me to cancel it when I felt it wasn't worth the headache. So, the NON-CON can stay.
I also know that one of the main callings on my life is to write. This [Subversive Underground] is part of my weekly ministry and these articles have been a discipline for me personally. I've also received a lot of positive feedback from many of you about them, and many of these end up as articles at http://www.theooze.com/ and other places online where people are challenged to think and to act out their faith. My books are also part of my calling to write, so those will remain.
Other than that, there are a few things I need to add to this list. I need to make it an ongoing, daily priority to love and pastor the families and individuals who are part of "The Mission" house church every week. These people have continually inspired me to follow Jesus and I am learning alongside these amazing people how to live out the calling of our Lord Jesus to "Love one another". These are incredible men and women of God who love me and help me to understand how to love and serve others as Jesus did. Whatever it takes for me to fan into flame what God has sparked among us, I will do it. I must do it.
Essentially I need to major on serving the poor, loving others and daily dying to myself in order to follow Jesus into the Kingdom way of life.
With a new perspective I was able to look at my original list and see it for what it really was. It almost seemed to create an invisible arrow that pointed to me and said, "Look at how cool I am! Look at all the cool things I'm doing for God!" and if I've learned anything in the last few years it's that God's idea of greatness and my idea of greatness are extreme polar opposites.
Jesus said that the greatest among us would be the servant of all. My list didn't include much serving of others and that needed to change.
"He has shown you oh man what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."- Micah 6:8
There are a few items on that original list that I will still most likely end up doing this new year, but the difference is that I will now try to keep my eyes on the needs of actual people around me. I will make decisions about what I do based on whether or not it's what God has really called me to do or what helps real people in need of God's Grace and Mercy.
I want to align my life with seeing what the Father is already doing and I want to throw myself headlong into loving the unlovely, serving the poor and touching the hearts of people in need.
Today I have officially abandoned all hope of ever being a Christian Celebrity. Instead I want to please my Heavenly Father by following in His footsteps and finishing the work that Jesus started here when He first announced the Kingdom of God had come to us.
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." - Luke 4: 18-19
As Jim Wallis once said, "Jesus came to announce the Gospel and he said it was good news to the poor. If our message isn't good news to the poor it may be a lot of things, but it's not the Gospel that Jesus preached."
Last weekend our house church partnered with another local church to provide Christmas gifts for over sixty children living in a local poverty motel. We had an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with many people and remind them that God sees them and knows them and loves them. That didn't make the local news, and most of those people don't know our names, or even the name of our church, but what matters is that the Kingdom is advanced and the message we bring is good news to the poor.
I can't wait to see where God leads us in the new year ahead.
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About my books:
"The Gospel: For Here Or To Go?" - The Gospel is not for sale. Learn how to relate to human beings as a human being without all the memorized speeches and pretentious nonsense commonly associated with evangelism. Instead, learn how to be who you are in the place you already live, work and play. The Gospel is not just for "those sinners" anymore, it's for you and me too. (Note: We are just as sinful as anyone else).
"Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)"- A devotional book for the MySpace Generation. This collection of 40 articles (over 200 pages) is a perfect guide for learning how to follow Jesus in your every day life without pretending to be the holiest person in the room.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDES BASED ON MY ARTICLES
Just stumbled upon this online. Kind of cool.