Tuesday, July 22, 2008



by Keith Giles

I really don't try to act like a radical. If anything I am trying as hard as possible to remain normal. The problem is I'm having a very hard time defining what normal should look like.

Being a radical means that you can't ever really just come out and say exactly what you mean. I have to choose my words carefully. I have to lead people to the same discoveries I have made, like clues to the scene of a crime no one is investigating.

Being a radical means I can not be comfortable with things that seem to delight everyone else. I cannot tolerate certain points of view without fuming inside. I cannot engage most people in conversation without biting my tongue for fear they may discover that I am a raging radical beneath this skin.

Please, don't become a radical. There's still hope for the rest of you to remain normal. Stay as you are. Do not read the words of Jesus. Do not take them seriously. Do not attempt to live them out. It will change you beyond recognition. Soon you will know the pain of trying to love someone who will not ever love you back. You will experience the agony of serving someone who will only go on to destroy their life, in spite of all that you have poured into them.

Do not read "Jesus For President" or "Pagan Christianity" and do not watch "What Would Jesus Buy?" or go to Just4One.org, for goodness sake. These things will only make you sick of corporate America and our endless lust for consuming goods and services at the expense of the poorest people in the world who work as slaves to create the things we purchase.

Do not, under any circumstances, download the PDF article by Ray Mayhew called "Embezzlement: The Corporate Sin of American Christianity" or you might also find yourself leaving your safe office as an associate pastor at a traditional church to start a house church in your home where you can give 100% of the offering to the poor. (But if you insist on reading this I will send it to you for free. Just email me at "elysiansky" at hotmail (dot) com).

Please, whatever you do, do not become a radical like me. It will cause you to be forever dissatisfied with this World. It will forever erase the fantasy world that most of us cling to for safety in the dark of night.

Once you become a radical you cannot simply exist. You cannot be a radical and still blend in with the culture ever again. Instead you will be driven to press forward, out of your comfort zone, compelled to put the commands of Jesus into action.

Being a radical means you can not ever rest until you have done everything in your power to awaken everyone else around you to the poverty, the sickness, the violence, the horror and the injustice of this fallen world. It means placing your foot into the footprints of the One who was called the Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with suffering and who knew that the secret to changing our world was only found in death to self and seeking first the Kingdom of God.

Trust me, it is so much easier to belong to a predictable movement where comfort is the goal and the radio is tuned to safety.

Stay the way you are.

Do not become a radical.

You have been warned.


This is one indie film worth seeking out.

"Lord Save Us From Your Followers" is not a slam against Christianity by non-believers, it's an honest look at Christianity in America that we need to take seriously.

This film hopes to reclaim the heart of the Gospel and to restore the concepts of relationship and love for people, as Jesus commanded us.

Secondly, the film hopes to inspire dialogue between political or ideological extremes, particularly Christian and non-Christian; Liberal and conservative.





Friday, July 18, 2008


[Subversive Underground]
by Keith Giles

Love isn't an easy thing to do. If you do it right, it will cost you everything.

To love someone you must lay aside your wants and focus on their needs. Their happiness takes precedence over your comfort, and their joy becomes more important than your own.

To be honest, I do not often do it right. Often I am too overcome by my own desire to be comfortable or happy to love someone else in this way. Love is difficult. It is challenging. Love is not for the faint of heart.

In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus gives us a glimpse into the future. We get to see what will count for Eternity when we stand before Him at the end of our lives. Surprisingly, what counts is how we have loved others.

"Whatever you have done for one of the least of these, my brothers, you have done it unto me."

Many of us will be surprised at how little weight Jesus gives to church attendance, tithing, drinking alcohol, using swear words, or wearing Christian t-shirts. In fact Jesus makes no reference to any of these things when it comes to the final Judgement. He seems to only care about one thing: How did you love others?

It's not a shock really, since the main command he gave to his followers was to love one another as he loved them. (see John 13:34)

So, in the end, it's all about the love we show, not the outward acts of power and service in the name of God.

Jesus was also clear that we are called to love those who don't love us in return.

"If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Don't even sinners do that?" (Luke 6:32)

Our calling, as followers of Jesus, is to love not only those who love us (our parents, our wives, our children, our best friend, etc.), but also those who do not love us (the guy on the freeway who cut us off, the family member who infuriates us, that annoying guy at church, our co-workers, our stupid boss, etc.).

Love, as I said before, is not an easy thing to do.

That's why we need to be changed, from the inside out, so that we can become the sort of people who love unconditionally and extravagantly.

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" - 2 Cor 5:16-17

As far as impossible things go, forgiveness is no walk in the park either. I'm reminded of a great quote from the film, "Into The Wild" where one character says to the main character, "When you forgive you love, and when you love God's light shines down on you."

Another thing that happens when you forgive is that you set yourself free.

"Forgiveness is giving up the right to retaliate. Forgiveness is the willingness to have something happen the way it happened. It's not true that you can't forgive something; it's a matter of the will, and you always have the choice. Forgiveness is never dependent on what the other person does or does not do; it is always under our control. Forgiveness is giving up the insistence on being understood.... Jesus forgave those who crucified him. This is a radically new way of thinking. For those who accept and practice this discipline, there is a release of energy and a sense of freedom." - Pixie Koestline Hammond; For Everything There Is a Season

Evil is overcome, then, not by force or by destructive power but by the amazing love of God. Only His perfect brand of love - without strings attached, where only the good of the person being loved is taken into account- can overcome a world of hate and violence and pain.

Like it or not, you and I, the followers of Jesus, have a mandate. We are commanded to love. We are compelled to forgive. Our only hope is to become like Jesus so that we can love like Jesus loved. This is the only hope possible for our troubled world.

Do we really believe that the greatest weapons against hate are love and forgiveness? Do we really put our faith in towels and basins of water as instruments of change? Do we actually trust in the power of daily dieing to ourselves so that Christ can live through us?

"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." - Colossians 1:27


This out of print, hard to find PDF booklet written by Ray Mayhew is available for free if you send me an email at "elysiansky" at hotmail (dot) com with the subject line "EMBEZZLEMENT".


I've set up a new web resource page to educate people about poverty here in Orange County, California.

It's at

Several local pastors have met with me and are interested in having me come and present a free, interactive workshop on poverty in Orange County. If you know of anyone in this area interested in something like this, please have them contact me via the info on this website.


Friday, July 11, 2008

The Cyprian Influence

[Subversive Underground]

The Cyprian Influence
by Keith Giles

For most of his life, Cyprian was a distinguished and wealthy pagan who lived in a luxurious villa which sprawled across much of the hillside of Carthage where he was born.

Born Thascius Cyprianus, he later took the name Caecilius in memory of the man who introduced him to the Christian faith. Due to his great wealth and influence in the pagan community, Cyprian was ordained as a deacon in the Christian church soon after his baptism and in very short order he was named as Bishop of Carthage, to the protest of many of the faithful in that region.

In spite of the very vocal opposition to Cyprian's fast track to Bishop-hood, which continued to plague him throughout his tenure in that office, his talents as a pagan orator and teacher of rhetoric, along with his great wealth, afforded him great influence within the 3rd century Christian church.

Early in his career as Bishop of Carthage, Cyprian was ordered to offer sacrifices to the Emperor or face persecution. He fled to a secluded village and maintained contact with the Church via an appointed contact. As more persecution came upon the members of his church, many others fled as well. However, Cyprian felt very strongly that the Church should not welcome back those Christians who escaped the sword by running away, as he had done. Instead he argued that they should be treated as unbelievers and not be welcomed back into fellowship.

Of course, when he eventually returned from hiding to resume his public office, he wrote a compelling letter explaining why his escape into seclusion was for the strengthening of the Church and that he should, therefore, be allowed to continue as Bishop of Carthage. None of the other Bishops opposed his return to his diocese and he was allowed to continue as if nothing had transpired.

Cyprian's greatest influence on the Church was introducing the concepts of priest, temples, rituals, altars and sacrifices to the faith. Until his writings, the Christian church had operated under the New Testament system, largely influenced by Jesus and his Apostles, which held firmly to the notion that the temple, the priesthood and the sacrifice were fulfilled in Christ at His Crucifixion and further that His Followers were also the temple of God, the royal priesthood and that their sacrifice was expressed in the way they lived their lives each day.

Because of Cyprian's skill as an orator and his prominence as a Bishop in Carthage, his pagan ideas of worship were given serious acceptance within the larger Body of Christ. In his writings Cyprian argued for a return to Old Testament Jewish practices which closely mirrored the concepts he had grown up with in a paganized culture.

Sadly, the Christian faith adopted Cyprian's ideas of spiritual covering, the special clergy caste, the importance of ritual and the need for a temple and sacrificial system of worship within one generation, effectively undoing the revolutionary concepts of Church found in the New Testament.

Inspired by Jesus, the Apostles established a community of believers, a church, based on the revolutionary concept of People-as-Temple and a corporate body which depended not upon a special clergy class, but upon the Holy Spirit Himself.

"...the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." - Jesus (John 14:26)

Under this radical new concept, the Church was built upon the foundation of Christ as our ultimate priest and sacrice and temple so that each of His followers could also become a temple of the living God, a daily sacrifice and a priest of God.

No one was more vocal about this concept of a living temple of God than Paul the Apostle who wrote prolifically on the subject in nearly every single epistle.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Cor 3:16

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own." 1 Cor 6:19

"What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." 2 Cor 6:16

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit." - Eph 2:19-22

Peter himself was also very clear on the concept of a living temple made up of people who were also the new priesthood and the daily sacrifice.

In his first epistle he clearly outlined this very concept to those early Christians:

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:4-5

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." - 1 Peter 2:9-10

Sadly, in the third century, Cyprian came on the scene and unraveled the tightly woven tapestry spun by Jesus and taught by His Apostles in the New Testament by someone who clearly did not fully understand the genius of this design.

Jesus himself spoke clearly on this subject when asked by the woman at the well about the location and method of proper worship to God. His response was that the temple in Jerusalem was no longer the "special" place to find God. Instead, one could find and worship God wherever they stood, as long as God's Spirit was within him or her.

"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." - Jesus (in John 4:23-24)

The very fact that the early followers of Jesus did not adopt a system of priesthood, or continue to offer daily sacrifices in a special temple bears witness to the fact that, as evidenced in the Apostolic writings, there was a new temple, priesthood and sacrifice now, and they were it.

Under Christ, the priesthood was now more than just one man overseeing a congregation of several hundred people, the priest was now every single one of those people. It was an exponential multiplication of priests who were also temples of God's Holy Spirit where a daily sacrifice of will and self took place.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.
- Romans 12:1

"Then (Jesus) said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." - Luke 9:23-24

When Cyprian re-wrote the New Testament to fit his own ideas about temple, priest and sacrifice, he effectively introduced a doctrine into the Church which continues to pervade our concepts of worship and church to this very day and hour.

But, what if we could return to the ideas of the New Testament? What if we could learn to live as if God's Holy Spirit lives within every single follower of Jesus? What if we could begin to think of ourselves as priests of God who daily offer themselves as living sacrifices so that Christ could live through us?

What if?





Friday, July 04, 2008


[Subversive Underground]
"The Ministry of Reconciliation"
by Keith Giles

My friend Mary Anne has cancer. She's sixty one years old and she's been part of our Mission House Church family for almost exactly one year now.

When I first met her she was living at the Salvation Army Hospitality House for the homeless.

For many years Mary Anne had been a school teacher here in Orange County. She loves children and loved teaching. Even today she still misses her classroom and her students.

For a time Mary Anne slept on our sofa. She had a son living a few blocks away, and a brother who lived nearby in a large mansion of a house on the hill, but Mary Anne, after years of caring for others, found she had to take care of herself at the age of sixty.

Even though she had a retirement pension from her many years as a teacher, she had cashed it out early to care for her son in his time of need a few years ago. When it came time to retire she found herself out of a job, and out of a house and home.

Mary Anne spent a few weeks on our sofa but eventually God opened a door for Mary Anne at a local retirement home. It was just down the street from us so we got to see her often and she continued to come to our house church gatherings each week.

About a month ago Mary Anne had a 3 inch tumor removed from her brain. You wouldn't believe how quickly she's recovered from her surgery, but there's still a network of melanoma tumors spider-webbed throughout her brain mass.

So, last Sunday our church family gathered around her and laid hands on her and prayed for God to heal her. Children and adults gathered around her and cried out to God for mercy, for healing and for restoration of health.

Afterwards we listened as Mary Anne shared with us about God's peace and how even though the Doctors say she is terminal, she feels fine and full of life. Better yet, she's witnessing God's ministry of reconciliation as her son is restored to her after years of estrangement, and her daughter is being reconciled to her father, and Mary Anne's brother is seeking out a renewed relationship with her after years of separation.

We reflected on how God seems to be using this sickness in Mary Anne's life to radiate healing through her life to heal relationships. Because of this terminal cancer God is restoring a son to his mother, a brother to his sister, and a daughter to her father.

Only God can do this. Only God can heal these wounds and restore these broken relationships.

One of our leaders in the house church, Kelly, remarked on how God's desire is to heal us completely. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally and psychologically. God desires to heal us and nurture us inside and out. He delights in making us whole and complete.

We shared together from 2 Corinthians 5, verses 17 through 20, where Paul reminds us: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us."

Each of us in the Body of Christ has been given this same ministry of reconciliation. We are to be peacemakers. Even as Jesus encouraged us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (Matthew 5:9), we are to be people of peace, people who bring reconciliation in our wake.

So, for today, Mary Anne basks in the peace of God, knowing that He is in control of her life. She knows that God is at work through her sickness, and that for now He is using even this to reconcile her family and restore these relationships. Her hope is that each of them will come to know Jesus as she knows Him, to love Him as she loves Him, and to trust Him as she trusts Him...with her very life.

In time, we pray that God would heal her cancer. We will continue to pray together every time we gather for God's mercy and healing in Mary Anne's body, and until then we will rejoice for the ministry of healing and reconciliation that is radiating out of her in every direction to soften hearts and restore her family.

As Mary Anne said to me last Sunday, "God is faithful."


Do yourself a huge favor. Go to ITunes and download the most recent podcast sermon over at Soul Survivor USA. It's a message by one of my heroes in the faith, Crissy Brooks. I promise it will bless you.