Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Glorious Now

[Subversive Underground]

The Glorious Now
by Keith Giles

What if you knew you only had a few months to live? Are there any people you'd call one last time to apologize to? Are there any places you'd travel to see before you passed away? What are the things you would do that you always intended to do but never got around to? Maybe you'd paint a picture or finish your novel? Maybe you'd teach your children a story, or take a vacation with those you love and soak in every last ounce of their presence while you could?

Wouldn't food taste more exquisite? Wouldn't laughter be deeper than before? Wouldn't color and sound and simple moments take on new significance?

Just holding a dear one's hands in your own would resonate with meaning. Just looking into the eyes of your children would bring you to tears. Just drawing a breath deep into your lungs and exhaling slowly would seem like drinking in the universe and exhaling your soul into the sky.

But what if you really only have one more week here on this Earth before you're gone? What if tomorrow you discover a lump, or get sick, or suffer a heart attack or a stroke? Do you know for certain how many days you have left upon this Earth?

None of us does, of course. So, we try not to dwell on the thought because it makes us uncomfortable to pause and listen to the clock over our head as it ticks down the remaining hours of our life. We are happier, more at ease, when we imagine ourselves to be invulnerable to the effects of entropy.

Yet, this is not the truth. We are not immortal. We are not immune to time. Death may have lost its sting, but death still retains its bite and every one of us alive this very moment will one day breathe our last.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
- Psalm 90:12

When we face the reality of our own mortality and accept that we are finite and limited, it gives us freedom to love and to forgive and to share with glorious abandon.

If we really understand that nothing we have will come with us to the grave, then we can open our hands and share what we have with those in need.

If we truly understand that in a few days our time here will be over, we can freely forgive those who have offended us and set ourselves free to enjoy the time we have left on this Earth.

All things created by God have a beginning and all things created by God have an end. Our time here is limited. Every one of us will come to the moment when we know our life is done. What matters is that we accomplish what we have been placed here to accomplish. What matters is that we live today as if it were all we have to live.

Our focus should be, not on yesterday which is over and done, and not on tomorrow which may never come, but on this glorious gift of now we call "today" where we live by the grace of Almighty God to love and share and reflect His Glory.

"Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days
a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man's life is but a breath. Selah
Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you." - Psalm 39:4-7


8/28/09 - "Behold, all things are made new!"



Friday, November 21, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

by Keith Giles

In the beginning God revealed His pefect will for mankind by creating a universe where every man and woman could walk with Him in the cool of the day and have intimate communion with one another.

We know that sin entered the heart of mankind and that this original plan had to be scrapped and a separation between God and man was formed because of this sin.

As God blessed Abraham and his descendants, the chosen people of the Earth, He again revealed His perfect will for mankind and loved them and led them as their King, leading them out of bondage to slavery, appearing to them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

But the people rejected God's intimacy and hands-on approach. They asked if Moses could be their go-between. They were frightened whenever God spoke to them directly out of the cloud. So, God allowed another degree of separation to come between Himself and His children because of their sin.

Later, the people grew tired of being unlike all the other nations around them and asked if God would give them a King to rule over them. Again, God's people rejected Him and so God allowed another degree of separation because of the sin of man's heart. He gave them a King to rule over them as they had asked, but even in doing so He was grieved.

When King David, a man after God's own heart, wanted to build a house for God to rival his own palace, God's response recalls his word from Isaiah, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" and in fact He takes it a step further and says, "When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son." - (2 Sam 7:12-14)

God made a promise to David that a King would come from his own seed who would build a house for God not made with human hands, where once again He would be our God and King and we would be His people.

When the angel announced the birth of this Messiah, he called his name "Emmanuel" - the God who is with us. When Jesus came he opposed the man-made religious systems of the day. He threatened the status quo and he fulfilled the promise by building a temple not made by human hands; a people who were themselves the living stones of an eternal household of God.

Jesus restored God as the King of every human heart and invited all who wanted to live under the rule and reign of the Father to come. The doors of God's Kingdom were now open wide.

Jesus fulfilled God's original desire to have intimate, daily communion with Him. He tore the veil of the man-made temple and made it possible for the Holy of Holies to spill out into every human heart and to encompass all of planet Earth with the tangible presence of God.

Because of the work of Christ upon the cross, all of the Earth is now potentially the Eden of God where mankind can walk with the Creator and know His presence and hear His voice. Because of Jesus, God's new temple has a heartbeat, and hands that can help and feet that can travel and a voice that can proclaim His goodness a million times each day to hundreds of millions around the Globe.

God has broken ground on a new temple for His glory, one not built with human hands. We are that temple. We are the house He has built for Himself. His Holy Spirit is within us. We are carriers of God's Presence.

The Good News that Jesus proclaimed announced access to God's Kingdom. We know that this Kingdom is still growing. We know that it has not yet been fully embraced by every heart and mind, but we have received the Good News that the door to this reality is now wide open. Every single person who has the desire to enter this Kingdom, and to live under the rule and reign of a loving, intimate God and Father can do so at any time.

Today the door to the Kingdom of God stands open. The opportunity to return to Eden is available. God wants to be your God. He wants to be your King. He wants to walk with you. He wants you to become the Temple where His Holy presence will rest and breathe and find a home.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" - 1 John 3:1

This is the Gospel. This is Subversive.



READ "More Love, Less Politics" over at Next-Wave Magazine

READ "Women as Pastors, Elders, Deacons and Overseers" over at


*Mark Main's "The Untried"


We'll all find out on 8/28/09



Friday, November 14, 2008

What Is An Apostle?

[Subversive Underground]

What Is An Apostle?
by Keith Giles

As I've been studying the early church the question came to me, "Where did the word 'Apostle' come from?" Looking at the New Testament the word simply appears out of nowhere as the twelve disciples are suddenly, without explanation, referred to as apostles. I started to wonder, "What was the origin of this word? What did it mean to those first century followers of Jesus who heard the word? Was it foreign or strange to them? Did it carry the same meaning for them that it does for us today?"

A quick search online revealed the following over at Wikipedia:

Apostle - Ancient Greek: (ἀπόστολος) or "apostolos", which is translated as "someone sent out", or "missionary".

According to the Bauer lexicon, Walter Bauer's Greek-English Lexicon of the NT: "Judaism had an office known as apostle (שליח)". The Friberg Greek Lexicon gives a broad definition as one who is sent on a mission, a commissioned representative of a congregation, a messenger for God, a person who has the special task of founding and establishing churches. The UBS Greek Dictionary also describes an apostle broadly as a messenger.

With this we can understand a little more about how the early church viewed the apostles. They were church-planting missionaries who preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and continued the ministry of Jesus, the Messiah.

When we look at the New Testament we see plenty of evidence to support this. Peter, James, John, Paul and the other apostles were primarily concerned with traveling to share the Gospel, plant churches and establish a framework for what it meant to be a follower of Jesus.

Christians today seem to hold the apostolic gifting as one above and beyond the common persons of Christendom. Many even go so far as to suggest that there are no apostles in today's church Bbody, which is to suggest that there are no longer church planters or missionaries who are called by God to evangelize the nations and establish the Church of God in the community.

When we read passages like Ephesians 4, verse 11-13 with this in mind it should give us a new perspective on the term "apostle" and the way the early church thought of these people within the Body itself - "It was he (Jesus) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

Apostles (church-planting missionaries) were necessary to communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom and establish the Church in Jerusalem, and Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the Earth. They were "first" in a chronological sense because, unless there is someone to go out and preach the Gospel and do the work of an evangelist or missionary, the Church couldn't be established. Once the Gospel is preached, people respond, groups are formed and the Church is established within a community, THEN the Holy Spirit provides for some to become their teachers, their shepherds, and to do the works of service.

I've been involved quite a bit lately defending the idea that the early church had no hierarchical form of leadership and this practical understanding of an apostle further solidifies the position that hierarchy wasn't part of the original Christian experience. Instead, we see Jesus commanding the disciples (future apostles) not to be like the secular Romans or the religious Pharisees who love to "lord it over" their followers. Instead, Jesus both commanded and modelled a bottom-up form of servant leadership, not a top-down form of CEO leadership. (SEE NOTE BELOW FOR MORE)

Another surprising discovery in the New Testament is that the apostles are not limited to just "The Twelve" we usually hear about on Sunday morning. These additional Apostles (or "Missionary Church-planters") include Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:7), Silas and Timothy(I Thessalonians 1:1; 2:6, Acts 15:40), and Apollos (1Corinthians 4:6; 4:9; 3:22; 3:4-6).

It's quite fascinating also to consider that many scholars believe that the apostle Junia was female (see Romans 16:7) which gives further weight to the idea that the apostolic gifting was simply about doing missionary work and planting churches.

Even more interesting is that Jesus himself is named among the apostles in Hebrews 3:1 where he is referred to as the "apostle and high priest of our professed faith". In this passage Jesus is identified as the first missionary church-planter who called the twelve disciples to follow him so that he could teach them to be "fishers of men".

While there is a special and unique connection between the original twelve disciples who walked and talked with Jesus personally, and even Paul who encountered the risen Christ in a vision, the actual functional position of an apostle is nothing special. Apostles were very simply and practically the ones who did the work of missionary evangelism and planted churches, and God is still calling His people to be missionaries into the community and plant churches that interact with the culture.

Apostolic succession, then, is simply a continuation of the traditional preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, making disciples, planting churches within the community and raising up others who will continually do the same.


NOTE: For an extensive exploration of the subject of church hierarchy please read the following articles and the resulting commentary found within.

"Where Are The Pastors?"

"First Century Pagan Talks to First Century Christian"

and Here:
"Biblical Scholarship in Support of Non-Hierarchy in the Church"

The PDF version of my book "The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?" has been downloaded 506 times so far, and my second book, "Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)" has been downloaded 424 times.

You can still get them both free of charge

Stay tuned to this channel for news and updates.


Friday, November 07, 2008


[Subversive Underground]

By Keith Giles

Our Christian faith was born under the world's most violent, immoral and pagan flag- The Roman Empire. Jesus, our Lord and our example, did not spend any time teaching his disciples to oppose the pantheistic government of the day, nor did he ever cry out against their political policies, their unjust use of force or their sexual deviancy. Not even once.

After His crucifixion and resurrection, the Church that Jesus inspired endured 300 years under this same oppressive, anti-Christian Government. Even as this Empire of Evil arrested them unjustly, tortured them to death, confiscated their property and created an entertainment industry around their public executions by sword and wild animal, the Christian Church remained full of love and continued to preach and live out the Gospel of the Kingdom.

After 300 years of such oppression, these faithful followers of Jesus overcame the darkness - not by violence, not by revolution, not by free elections or political pressure, but simply by the hand of God alone and the power of the Gospel to change hearts and transform lives.

If our DNA was founded under such darkness, and if those first Christians remained hopeful, rejoicing in their sufferings, and living out their faith on a daily basis, how much more should we, in this free country, take a positive outlook on our future and live lives of hope no matter who is in the White House?

Over the last few months I have received an inbox full of email telling me to "Vote Like A Christian" and suggesting that I must pray for God to work a miracle and defeat the "Baby-killing, closet Muslim" who opposed our conservative, Republican values. Since the election I have heard Christians around me saying that "America is being judged by God" and moaning about the horrors of living under the oppressive rule of the Democratic party.

But our faith was founded under oppression much greater than this. We still live in a country where everyone is free to worship, free to speak, free to protest, free to sing and pray and read their Bible without fear of being arrested or killed for sport or thrown into jail. Our New Testament brothers and sisters would hardly be able to contain their joy at living in a nation such as ours where our freedoms abound and our faith is not a death sentence.

Is it really so horrible to live under a Democratic President? If our hope is in politicians, then perhaps I could understand this sense of gloom and defeat among God's Church today. But we do not place our hope in men, or in the political systems around us. Our hope is in Christ. Our God is still in control. The Kingdom of God is still advancing. The Gospel of Jesus is still true. We still have cause to shout and praise and celebrate.

Our New Testament is a story of believers who lived such extravagant lives of love among their pagan neighbors that slowly they turned the world upside down- one life at a time, one family at a time, one household at a time, one community at a time.

"Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." - 1 Peter 2:11-12

My advice to us is not hang our hopes on any political candidate, party platform, or governing body. They will always fall short of their promise and they will never bring the deep, lasting sort of change we all so desperately need and hope for.

Politicians are people who have placed their hope for a better tomorrow in the political system. They believe that progress will be made primarily in the political arena and therefore they place the majority of their time, passion, energy and hope in effecting change from that vantage point.

I am not a politician. Nor am I primarily focused on a political solution to the problems and challenges that face our communities, our nation, or mankind.

Instead, I have placed my hope for mankind in Christ Jesus and in the Gospel of the Kingdom. Because of this, I do not believe that politics will ever bring about real and lasting change in this nation, or in the hearts and minds of mankind.

I believe that our problems, society's problems, are deeper than any law or policy or proposition or measure can touch or effect. We can change laws but those laws will not change hearts. In fact, every year our nation writes thousands of new laws, and yet we do not see any improvement in our society due to the ever-increasing laws being passed by our legislature.

Does that mean we don't need laws? Of course not. Does it mean we, as followers of Jesus, should not participate in the political process? No, it doesn't. We should vote and speak out wherever necessary, however we should be careful not to forget that the hope for mankind isn't to be found in politics. It's only found in Christ Jesus and in the Gospel of the Kingdom.

This means that God is not a Republican or a Democrat. It means that, although we may continue to be proud citizens of America and participate in the democratic process, our ultimate focus is not politics, our hope is not in politicians or laws. No, our hope is in the Gospel of Christ. Our desire is to bring change to one person at a time, and to campaign for hope in the lives of the broken, the poor, the outcast and the forgotten in our society.

Our participation in the campaign for hope and change does not end at the polls, nor does it express itself in the forwarding of partisan e-mail messages endorsing a specific candidate for office. Our participation begins at sharing our lives with those around us. It begins with loving people as we have been loved. It begins with learning to relate to people; not as a Christian to a Non-Christian; not as a Republican to a Democrat, not as a Liberal to a Conservative, but simply as one human being to another human being.

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." - 1 Peter 2:13-17

Our calling is simply to love others more than we love ourselves and to demonstrate the power of God's love to transform us from the inside out.

If our faith was birthed in the crucible of oppression and persecution, I believe American Christians can certainly endure four years of unfettered religious freedom to proclaim the Gospel far and wide without fear of attack.

This is a day of rejoicing. Let us give thanks to God that He is still on His awesome throne.

If you haven't yet downloaded the free PDF versions of my books - What are you waiting for?

Both are still available as free, downloadable PDF's

-The Gospel:For Here Or To Go?
-Nobody Follows Jesus (So Why Should You?)

*The Mission House Church
*Poverty In The OC
*OC House Church Network