Saturday, August 30, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

The Bible uses several metaphors to describe the Church. We are called the Bride, the Family of God, and the Body of Christ.

We are never referred to as an organization, a weekly meeting or a business.

In God's heart, we are a living organism. We are a Body made up of interdependent parts with Christ as our head.

We are a family, adopted sons and daughters who are blessed beyond measure to call the Creator of the Universe "Papa".

We are a Bride, the fiancee of the Son of God, radiant by His Glory, madly in love with the Groom, being made ready for a wedding feast at the End of Time.

We are carriers of the Kingdom message, empowered by His Holy Spirit, called from the four corners of the Earth, on a mission of love and service and daily sacrifice.

We are sons and daughters. We are fathers and mothers. We are housewives and computer engineers. We are musicians and artists. We are mathematicians and scientists. We are poets and truck drivers and marketing executives and elementary school teachers and airline pilots.

We are the global ambassadors of God's love to a hurting and dying world.

We are the Church when we are awake and when we are asleep. We are the Church when we are driving on the freeway and when we are talking on the phone. We are the Church when we are in line at the Grocery Store or eating a cheeseburger in the food court.

We are the Church - Agents of change who have one simple command to fulfill; "Love one another".

If we could really understand this. If we could really see who we are every minute of every day, there is nothing that could stand in our way, not even the very gates of Hell.

Can we defend the cause of the orphan and the widow? Can we speak up for the abused and the enslaved? Can we share what we have been given with those in our own community who have nothing? Can we lay aside our petty differences and learn to forgive and love and befriend those who are right in front of us?

Can we learn to love others as Jesus loved? Can we give the way He gave? Can we lay down our lives, our wants, our needs, our comfort, for the good of someone else?

All of Heaven holds it breath in anticipation, awaiting the outcome of this drama of life we find ourselves in.

The Kingdom is in motion. Your assistance is required.

Don't miss your chance to shine.


This week I set up a website and a dedicated email address for people here in Orange County who are curious about house church and want to learn more. The website is and my hope is to connect local house church leaders with one another, and with people here in our community who are looking for a house church family to join.

I plan to host a free, monthly "House Church 101" class to answer questions, provide info and equip people to start their own house churches.

Pray that other local house churches will join me in this effort. I would love to have their help in coaching, training and welcoming new people into the house church movement.

Last week I set up a little survey over at to find out a little more about the 250 or so people who currently subscribe to this little weekly e-newsletter.

If you haven't taken the survey yet, I'd appreciate it if you took some time to do so. It's only 10 questions long and it's


Monday, August 18, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

Online Confessions by Keith Giles

This week I ran across a blog entry that I felt misrepresented the words of Jesus on the subject of forgiveness. I attempted, as lovingly as possible, to ask the author a few questions and explain why I disagreed. This person eventually deleted all of my comments to their article and removed all trace of our debate.

I felt angry that my voice hadn't been heard and felt that I had no recourse but to post my arguments and make my case over at my own blog.

I did try my best, at the time, to be fair and loving and use language that veered away from outright attacking him or condemning him. But now I realize that I could have gone a bit further towards extending this person a little more grace. I know that if this person had been my best friend I I would probably have said something like, "My friend and I were having a little disagreement about a difficult passage of scripture this week. Here's my interpretation of what I think Jesus really says about forgiveness."

Instead, I got pissed off because he was deleting my comments and trying to deflect any and all criticism. That made me feel like I had to find a place to display my side of the story publicly. Where else but my own blog, right? Oh, yes, yes, it also bothered me that he was twisting the words of Jesus and misleading those people who follow his teaching, but in my mind I think I was more upset that he had dared to delete my comments and silence my voice. I mean, who does he think he is, right?

My chief complaint and greatest offense was personal. My secondary offense was that he had twisted the words of Jesus. I don't honestly think I realized that at the time, but now at the end of the week I have to confess that this is much closer to the truth.

So, I need to confess this to everyone and admit that I have re-discovered the Pharisee inside of me who cares more about what people think about him than he does about what people think about God or His Word. This is a painful thing to admit about myself, but I can't deny this is true. I ask for your prayers and for your help in putting to death the Pharisee in me. I am praying that God would help me to see these sorts of things more and more so that I can identify my hypocrisy and pride and submit these areas of my life to Christ, the Great Physician, who (I hope and pray) will be merciless as He cuts this infectious, evil junk out of my heart.

On a similar note: On the way to work this morning I realized that I really needed to forgive someone. I was angry at them for something they did and I was keeping it inside.

Last night at house church I sat there and talked about how God has been speaking to me about forgiveness (due to my exchanges with the offending blogger) and how I've been reminded that forgiveness is something I need from God daily, and how I need to remember the "Conversatio Morem!" (Constant Conversion) principle of coming daily to Jesus to bend the knee and confess my sins and lay myself at His feet.

I sat there on the floor last night and said, "It's not like I have anyone in my life I need to forgive right now". Honestly, at the time it really didn't occur to me that I needed to forgive this person. They had hurt me and I was a bit angry at them for the decisions they had made, but I didn't think that I needed to forgive them for anything. I guess I just thought they needed to apologize or change their behavior. Maybe I was hoping that if I just stuffed it deeper inside my heart that eventually the pain would subside. I mean, it hasn't ever worked before but you never know when these acts of futility might eventually start paying off. Right?

Anyway, on the drive to work today I was praying and asking God to put His finger on the place in my heart that needed healing and comforting (because I feel kinda sad about some of the things I'm seeing in our house church, and I'm feeling like a bit of a failure in some ways because I can't be all things to all people and I don't have the time I used to have to be there for people I care about, and I'm not sure I know how to lead our church through our current growth phase, etc.), and as I pulled into the parking lot He spoke to me and made me realize that I do have someone I need to forgive. And then He took me back to last night, sitting on the floor and saying "I don't think there's anyone I need to forgive" and helped me to see that I really do need to forgive this person. I need to set them free. I need to set myself free. I need to have this relationship healed and I need to be healed myself.

When I back all the way up from the events of this week I almost wonder if God didn't allow me to trip over that wacky blog article and respond to his post and get into this drawn out online argument and post a rebuttal on my blog and ask six mentors and friends about their opinion on the issue, and share last night about the need we have for forgiveness...just so I could drive into the parking lot this morning and realize, and admit, and accept, that I need to forgive this person and love them and set them free and allow God to heal the wound in my heart.

God is showing me so many things about myself these days. Some of them are hard to accept. Some of them are just reminders of things I've known for years, but have recently forgotten. But all of them are for my good. All of them are because He loves me so much it's beyond ridiculous.

I don't know if this confession helps anyone else or not. I just know that, as I let go of my hurt feelings and set this person free in my heart, I am suddenly, incredibly set free myself. The weight is lifted and the chains have fallen off. I have wings. Why didn't I do this a long time ago?

It's good to forgive and to be forgiven.

Try it sometime.
Email me directly at "Elysiansky" (at) "hotmail" (dot com)



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Tuesday, August 12, 2008


[Subversive Underground]
"My Subversive Jesus"
by Keith Giles

This Sunday morning I was very challenged to read about how Jesus very directly and intentionally confronted the empty traditions of the Pharisees by what He said and did.

In John chapter 9, Jesus sees a man born blind. His disciples ask if this blindness is due to sin from his parents or his own sin. Jesus responds by saying that it is not because of anyone's sin but so that God's power may be displayed in his life.

What Jesus does next is very subversive. He spits on the ground, makes a cake of mud and smears it on the man's eyes and tells him to wash his face in the pool of Siloam. When he does the man is healed.

If you're like me you've probably always wondered why Jesus healed this man in such an unusual way. We know he could have simply spoken to him and restored his blindness, yet for some strange reason he performs this miracle in a very weird and, frankly, disgusting way.

Want to know why? The answer reveals some of the intentionally subversive methods of Jesus. In the Mishnah, the first major work of Rabbinic Judaism, it says "To heal a blind man on the Sabbath it is prohibited to make mud with spittle and smear it on his eyes." (Shabbat 108:20)

When Jesus decided to heal this man, on the Sabbath, using this exact same method prohibited by the Mishnah, he was publicly opposing this section of the Rabbinic Law and making a statement about the foolishness of a rule which prohibits healing someone from blindness.

His actions are a deliberate attack on the established religious system of the day.

If you read the entire passage in John 9 you'll see that this healing prompted an investigative tribunal by the Pharisees to determine how this person was healed, by whom and why.

"They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, "and I washed, and now I see." Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." - John 9:13-16

Clearly the Pharisees were upset over this and did all they could to undermine the miracle and to condemn Jesus for his actions.

In Luke chapter 11 we read of another direct encounter with the Pharisees where Jesus publicly opposed their teachings by his acts of subversion.

"When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised. Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you." - Luke 11:37-41

Again, the Mishnah clearly says, "One should be willing to walk four miles to water in order to wash your hands rather than to eat with unwashed hands" (Sotah, 4b) and "He who neglects hand washing is as he who is a murderer" (Challan, J, 58:3).

Jesus knew he was breaking this rabbinical law when he and his disciples ate without washing their hands. He didn't forget to wash his hands, he intentionally walked past the line of people who were engaged in the religious hand washing ceremony and went over to the table and started to eat.

Jesus pointed out how foolish it is to go through an outward ceremony of cleanliness when inside our hearts we are filthy. Jesus urged the Pharisees to give what they had to the poor rather than engage in outward displays of holiness.

Jesus could easily have healed on another day of the week, and he could have easily healed without the spittle and mud cakes, and he probably should have washed his hands before he ate, but these were opportunities to demonstrate how foolish these laws were and how much more God cares for people than he does for rules and laws.

It made me wonder, what are the modern traditions that I need to oppose by my actions? How can I follow Jesus by standing against the ways of man and, at the same time, declare my allegiance to the things of the Kingdom?

Quite honestly I haven't yet worked this all out, but I do feel that there may be a short list of things that I could do and say in my every day life that could condemn the empty religious rules of men in favor of the values of the Kingdom of God.

Can you think of anything?

NOTE: Many thanks to Frank Viola for enlightening me on the Mishnah teachings in his excellent book, "Pagan Christianity".

Over at my main blog there are some pretty cool conversations going on. You should take a peek




Friday, August 08, 2008



by Keith Giles

Over the last few months God has been leading me down a path that I have somewhat reluctantly agreed to travel. There was a moment when I was offered a chance to stop and turn back. Almost like Morpheus offering Neo one last opportunity to remain in Wonderland before unzipping his mind and allowing reality to spill inward.

I was standing in the bathroom a few weeks ago, getting ready to brush my teeth and roll into bed. My wife was turning off the lights in the house and locking the front door and so I had a moment to myself. Looking in the mirror I felt as if God were asking me if I wanted to continue to follow the path I was walking or not.

Isn't it enough that I've left the traditional church to plant a house church in my home, I wondered? Isn't it enough that I publish articles on the internet to provoke a complacent American Church to awaken from slumber? How much more radical can I be? Why can't I just stay right where I am?

Standing there in my bathroom, looking at my face in the mirror I knew there was a way out. "You can stop now and everything will be alright".

Even though a part of me was longing for the comfort of blissful ignorance, I knew there was really no choice at all. In my bathroom that night, as I unspooled a length of floss from the carton and wrapped it around my finger, I willingly stepped over the line that had been drawn in the sands of my mind.

At that point in my life I was reeling from a myriad of realizations concerning the development of the early Christian faith. The slim stack of books in my canvas bag sat like loaded clips of mental ammo and page by page each one was shooting holes in my reality. My universe was slowly unraveling, and by more than one thread at a time.

Today, just a few weeks later, I can look over my shoulder and barely make out that line in the sand. This journey has been brief, but it has taken me further down the road than I ever imagined I would come.

I know that Jesus had something amazing in mind when He designed His Church. It wasn't meant to be a burden to His people. He modelled and inspired a family of faith where everyone was gifted to serve and empowered to encourage and heal and edify and inspire the rest. Of course, the problem is that we have chosen to try it our own way and this is what we get - tired and empty and run down.

Very simply, Jesus came to abolish the daily sacrifice. He became the Lamb of God and there is now no need for any further blood sacrifice.

Jesus came to destroy the Temple. He became the Temple and destroyed it, raising it again in three days. The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and it remains so to this day.

Jesus came to abolish the Jewish Priesthood. He became our ultimate, final High Priest and lives to intercede for us to this very moment. The Jewish Priesthood today remains an empty shell of its former self, mainly due to the loss of the Temple and the ceasing of the daily sacrifice.

Why did Jesus do these things? To establish His Church. To give birth to a people who would become the Temple of God, who would daily lay down their lives for Him and who would become the new royal priesthood of God.

This was not an accident. This was the intentional work of Jesus. He tore down one system in order to give birth to a new, vibrant, living organism and His Apostles understood this completely. This is why they did not establish a new priesthood within the Church. Instead they taught that everyone who was in Christ was of the priesthood of the Believer.

It's also why they didn't continue to offer a daily blood sacrifice. They understood that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and that our response should be to surrender our lives as living sacrifices to honor Him.

The Apostles also demonstrated their understanding of what Christ had accomplished by not building a new Temple or place of worship. Instead they taught that the people of God were the building made up of living stones- the only building God had ever asked for.

God's design for His Church was specific. He intended that each person would use the special gifting imparted by the Holy Spirit to relationally encourage, strengthen, exhort, heal, inspire, edify, and counsel one another.

I must point out that it was never God's intent that all of the encouraging, teaching, healing, counseling and exhorting come through only one or two members in the Body. Instead, God's plan was to equally distribute the workload so that everything the Body needs is available to the Body, through the Holy Spirit which is implanted in the Body for the common good of the Body.

God also displayed His genius when He decided to distribute the gifts of the spirit to people throughout the Body. This means that a relational structure is necessary to keep the organism healthy. Because one person has the gift of encouragment, I must be encouraged by that person. To receive the healing I need it must come from the sister in our Body who has been given the gift of healing, and so on.

If God had wanted to, He could have given the gift directly to the person who needed it. Instead, He built into the organism a relational structure that acts as a delivery system for the gifts of the Spirit.

As I begin to see these things in action here in our own house church, and as God continually shows me His vision for His Church through the Scriptures, I am in awe.

At the same time, I have to admit a great sadness when I see how we have adopted our own method of gathering together that effectively unravels nearly everything that God had in mind for His Bride.

In our modern day traditional American church we have abandoned a relational, family structure and embraced a corporate, business model for the Church. We have shifted to an organizational model and not an organism model.

Do models matter? Yes, they do. If you attempted to run your family like a business it would change the dynamic of your family. Decisions would be made to benefit the business first and the concept of family would become lost in the new corporate structure of your home.

"Sorry son, you know I love you- like a son- but George here has doubled his last quarter sales goal so I'm giving him your room. If you get your sales up next quarter I'm sure we can get you back in the top bunk."

God's design for His Church is important. If we are dying for community it's because we've abandoned a relational form of Church. If we see our pastors burn out and fall away it's because we've twisted God's relational plan for His Church into a one-man show. If our churches are unfriendly and cold it's because we have forsaken a family approach and embraced a corporate structure.

If we're really interested in following God's Word, it's important for us to listen to what it says, and to put these things into practice.

So, today I know that I have come too far to turn back. I can no longer remain silent. I have to ask, "How many Christians does it take to unscrew the Church?"

What scares me is, I have no idea what the punchline is.



Sunday, August 03, 2008



By Keith Giles

This morning I did something very important. I got out of bed, got down on my knees and surrendered my life to Jesus.

I bowed my head and said, "Jesus, you know I've not loved my neighbor as myself, and I'm not very good at considering others as better than me, but I confess to you my sins and my failures and I ask you to help me to follow you with all my heart. I want to hear your voice and I want to live my life for you, Lord Jesus."

After that I felt like a load had been lifted from my shoulders, and my heart felt lighter than usual.

The air outside was crisp and brand new, the way I felt inside. The day was just beginning and I knew that my life in Christ was just beginning too.

I must admit, this isn't the first time I've bowed my head and bent my knee to ask God for forgiveness. I do it all the time. In fact, my goal has been to make repentence and confession a daily occurence. Not a ritual, but a very real and honest admission to God of my weakness, my failures and my great need for more of Him in my life.

I used to think of salvation as having taken place when I first prayed that prayer of repentence and confession as a 9 year old boy in Eagle Pass, Texas at the Lighthouse Freewill Baptist Church. That was certainly a very important day in my journey with Christ, but it wasn't enough, unfortunately. I soon learned that I needed a daily shot of God's Grace and a constant infusion of His Holy Spirit to fill me and change me and empower me to be like Jesus.

"For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." - 1 Peter 1:9

Today was a very important day in my spiritual life too. It was yet another opportunity to lay down my life and surrender my heart to Jesus.

Taking up my cross, and letting go of my life, is part of my daily obedience to Jesus. I need a constant conversion experience in order to place my feet into the footprints of the One who is ahead of me, blazing a trail of love and forgiveness and mercy and grace.

Today I gave my heart to Christ. Did you?