Category: Random Writings

Jesus Is King – Kanye West

Jesus Is King – Kanye West

I never imagined writing the following, but God has a way of doing things far beyond our own understandings. If you haven’t heard, which would surprise me, Kanye West (yes that Kanye) has released a Christian music album. Several friends on Facebook this weekend commented and posted about it. I had to take the time this morning to listen.

The content of the music reflects a change of heart for Kanye. He is not intending to teach deep theological concepts through this album. Rather he seems to be announcing his newfound faith in Jesus Christ. A “Coffee With Jesus” cartoon I saw makes the point the music is not “Christian”, but very much Kanye. The music has the same style and feel of secular music, but the content, the words, show a deep change of heart.

As I listened on the way in to the office this morning, God spoke in a way that “music” hasn’t done for me in a while. It took my spirit back to the beginning and the joy of Christ’s love. My spirit was moved deeply to pray for him and his walk, far beyond the normal prayer for those who are leading. You know the kind of prayer I’m talking about, the “and we pray for those leading” and that’s it? Not this morning, deep powerful prayer was to be had for Kanye West and his family.

God also prompted me to write and help others see the same. Do you pray for those leading the fight in a deep, powerful, and moving way? Or do you gloss over it? Go and listen to Jesus Is King. When you’re listening remember to let it take you back to the beginning of your walk, which is where he is, and let God teach you. Here’s a link to the full album on Youtube.

Our Response to Kanye

I’ve been reading posts and thoughts about Kanye’s conversion. I have noticed in a few of them people seem to claim it’s fake. Maybe not directly or overtly, but it is implied. I want to call on you to not be that person. Paul tells the Corinthian church that no man can claim “Jesus is Lord” without the Spirit. We need to remember that Kanye is very much declaring Jesus as Lord and King. As such we must, as brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for him.

Jackie made a good point on the way home from church yesterday as we were discussing this. She pointed out how often Christians turn on each other. She said that there are going to be people that are watching Kanye just waiting on him to mess up so they can say “see we told you so”. If that’s you, you’re a part of the problem in the Church today. There I said it.

Our responsibility as believers is to be a family, a community, a single unified body, the very Body of Christ. Paul was clear when he talked about parts of the body claiming to not need others. The body of Christ cannot thrive in the way it did at first if we’re all looking to find the fault in another. It’s time that the Church returns to unity, and Kanye may just be the catalyst.

Next Step

Make time today to pray for Kanye West and family. He has chosen to follow Jesus Christ as his Lord in the middle of a culture that despises Christ. He is going to be attacked for his faith, people are going to spit on him and persecute him. We as believers should be praying for his faith to remain strong. Right now, he has the ability and influence to reach MILLIONS of people. The first song on the album, linked above, has just shy of 1.5 million views since Friday.

Pray that God would make Kanye a beacon of light into the darkness. God can do amazing things with anyone, He may well have chosen Kanye to bring revival back to the world.

Relationships

Relationships

The Bible study group I’ve been a part of on Sunday nights likes to dig deep into topics. We’ve been discussing Heaven over the last couple of weeks. We’ve talked about “where are believers who die today?”, “what did Jesus mean when He talked about Paradise with the thief on the cross?”, and “what about Lazarus and the Rich man, what was that parable or actual events?”. Well this next week we’ll be discussing relationships in Heaven. I emailed some thoughts to our fearless leader, and he pointed out that I should write about it here. He knows that I’ve struggled this last couple of months to get something written here, so I think it was a ploy to get me back and running. Either way, I’m glad he did. I don’t think I’ll go into much detail into my thoughts yet, as they’re still floating in my head, but I think this may be something I write on a couple of times this week.

Relationships in Heaven

I know one topic that will be discussed is Jesus telling the Sadducees that after the resurrection there will be no marriage. I sat down and did some reading from various authors on this topic this evening. I have to agree with them, Jesus is pretty plain in His statement. So the question becomes, “why?” Why is there no marriage in Heaven?

My question first is “Why is there marriage on earth?” Two things come to mind, one Adam and Eve were each given a purpose, but at the same time given a purpose together. Adam was to tend the garden (or orchard depending on your choice of texts), Eve was to be his helper. Together they were supposed to populate and subdue the earth having dominion over it. Individuals are given a purpose. Couples are given a purpose. What one man cannot accomplish alone, the couple together often can. We’re to help each other complete our tasks, and together fulfill our purpose. Another reason that comes to mind is that marriage is a representation of the relationship between us and Christ. Our first love, our first priority in this world should be toward Christ. He sacrificed Himself so that we could be redeemed to Him. He paid the price for our sins, so that we could walk in relationship with Him. Our marriages on this earth are supposed to represent that same love that Christ has for us. We’re supposed to love our spouse the way that Christ loves us, treat them how Christ treats us, and lead as men in the way that Christ leads us.

So, that doesn’t really answer the whole “why is there no marriage in Heaven” issue does it? No, but it does give us some insight. One of the early church fathers, St. John Chrysostom, wrote a Letter to a Young Widow (that’s actually the title of it) where he explains several things to her relating to relationships and Heaven, but I want to pull out of his thoughts one thing in particular. In Heaven we have no need for friends, family, lovers because we’re with God. The most intimate relationship possible, and we’ll experience for eternity. That doesn’t mean that we won’t know each other. Quite the opposite, we’ll have a deep intimate love for each other that finds it’s source in the Father’s love. We’ll have the same love for each other that God has for each of us.

Insight

So where do I get that my thoughts on earthly marriage are insightful? Let’s look at CS Lewis first, then I’ll explain. CS Lewis wrote in one of his many writings about a young boy learning of sexual activities and asks “do they get chocolate too?” (paraphrased). You see in this boy’s mind could only comprehend that chocolates were the key. He had no idea. And so it is with us, we fixate on the things we know and so struggle with understanding how something could be better. It’s hard for us (if not impossible) to imagine a life, one without sin, where our love for each other runs as deep as the Father’s love for us. Because of this we struggle to figure out why, “why can’t I be married to my wife”, “why can’t we help populate the new world”, “what do you mean we won’t live together”. You can have chocolate in your relationship, but that’s not the key. You can have friendships, spouses, family, but in Heaven the love will be and intimate love straight from the Father and our relationship will be with Him and to others through Him. You see, as long as we continue to place this life’s greatness on Heaven, we can’t begin to understand how great Heaven really can be.

Application

I’m going to try and offer some application in my blog posts going forward, not sure how well it will work out, but I’ll try!

We Christian couples like to say that “Christ is our first love!”, but then we go on and live our lives as we do. How many of us honestly truly place Christ as our head relationship? I’m not going to say that it’s OK to place another relationship ahead of your’s and Christ’s, but I can say it’s easy to. It’s hard for us to, on a daily basis, say and truly live out “Christ is my spouse, His needs come first”. So I’m asking you today, do you live like Christ is your spouse? Maybe as an application exercise spend some time examining your relationships with others, and then look at your relationship with Christ. Which one do you give more time and effort?

Which is more important?

Which is more important?

So I just walked into the front office and asked Treena what I should write about today. Her response? “Which was more important, the birth of Christ or the resurrection?” I am going to take it a step further and pose the question as, “Which was more important, the birth, the life, the death, or the resurrection of the Christ?”

His Birth Was Most Important

“You shall know therefore and understand that from the going forth of the word to be answered and to build Jerusalem, until Christ the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. – Daniel 9:25a”

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Immanuel [God with us]. – Isaiah 7:14”

Few events have as many specific prophecies related to them as the coming of the Messiah. Daniel was told a very precise timeline for the coming of Messiah. Isaiah was told that He would be called Immanuel. Micah was told that He would specifically be born in Bethlehem. To the ancient Jews this was the most important thing that could happen for them. They knew that the coming Messiah was coming to free them from bondage, to make Israel the power that it once was, and to rule over them justly. They didn’t realize that the coming Messiah would literally be God in the flesh like we can see now.

You see to the Jews the coming Messiah was so important because He was going to fix their issues, and to us the birth is important because it shows the willingness of God to sacrifice His glory to become like us. Remember what Paul wrote?
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. – Philippians 2:5-7″ 

So we have to take a moment to think about exactly why it is so important that God left His glory and became like us. Without His willingness to leave that glory, there would be no birth, no life, no death, and no resurrection. Looking back through the lens of history we can say that the birth has to be the most important because it showed God’s willingness to do whatever it takes to save the world. Not only that, but the coming of Christ signifies to us the beginning of the end of the reign of sin and death. Because we know the end of the story we can look forward to what is going to happen.

I was talking with a friend about this post and he pointed out that the birth is one thing that God could have done differently. He could have just appeared in the desert, walked into Jerusalem, and said “Hey, I’m God, how are you?”. But my first thoughts were that without the birth of Christ, without the childhood and growth, would His teachings have been the same? I mean, if He just appeared one day would the religious elites have been so against Him? One of their biggest arguments was “isn’t this the carpenters son from Nazareth?”. They had witnessed Him (or at least knew of Him) as a child, and so when He started to teach against them it caused them much distress. This distress then led to their desire to kill Him, which in turn leads to His sacrificial death giving us life. So while it could have happened another way, I think His birth and childhood were vital to the entire story. Because without the birth of Christ there is nothing more, and so it has to be the most important act in the gospel, doesn’t it?

His Life Was Most Important

“Butter and honey He shall eat before He knows to prefer evil or choose the good, for before the Child knows good or evil, He refuses the evil to choose the good; – Isaiah 7:15a”

It’s something that isn’t written about in the Gospels, the life of Christ before His baptism. We don’t know much more than the family lived in Bethlehem for a time and was visited by some wise men from the east, we know He was taken to Egypt after Joseph was warned in a dream, that they returned and lived in Nazareth, and He grew up. Until His baptism marking the beginning of His ministry time, there’s not a lot recorded. The one thing that we can know, thanks to Isaiah, is that even before He knew to choose good over evil He chose good. So we can safely assume He was a pretty good kid.

What is written about, and consumes a majority of the Gospels, is the life of Christ after the baptism. He walked the streets of Jerusalem, rode in boats across the sea to visit other places, and He even ventured into places no self respecting Jew would ever dare. He told stories to the people to help them prepare for when their eyes were opened to the Kingdom of Heaven, He sat with little children and, I can only imagine, played with them in the grass. He stood up to the elites who used their power over the people to benefit themselves, and He showed the people that even the sinners were important to God. His life was all about relationships, man to man, and man to God. He was the perfect example for us to follow.

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps – 1 Peter 2:21”

His life is our example of how to best live our lives. He gave specific instruction in some areas like hate and revenge (Matt 5), He led by example in others like His discussion with the samaritan woman (John 4), and He told stories that today we see the deep meaning like the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10). Through His life and example we can see what our lives should be. His life has to be the most important aspect to the story because without it, what kind of example would we be able to follow?

His Death Was Most Important

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. – Romans 5:8-9”

Without the death of Christ there is no payment for sin; without payment for sin, there is no salvation for man; without salvation for man there is no relationship with God; without relationship with God there is no future beyond death. The death of Christ is what gives us the ability to have a relationship with God. His payment for our sin makes us holy in the eyes of God, and therefore we can stand before Him and love Him, and be loved by Him. His sacrifice given for us makes us perfect spiritually before God (Hebrews 10). His willingness to die while were sinners and enemies shows how great His love is for us, maybe an even greater love than the one who would die for a friend (John 15:13). Because of His death we no longer have to fear (like someone’s going to kill you fear, not reverential fear) God. We don’t have be scared that one day God is just going to hit us with a bus because we made him mad, side note if He does hit us with a bus it’s for the good of those who love Him.

The blood of Christ brings us nearer to the Father than any other thing in history. His death abolished the the sin that separates us, it removed the wall that kept us apart (Ephesians 2:14-16). Even beyond the fact that we’re no longer separated from God, we’ve been given a great gift; because of the death of Christ we can now approach God as Abba. We were adopted into His family (Romans 8:15), made heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). His death has to be the most important because without it we can’t be reconciled to the Father, right?

His Resurrection Was Most Important

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-18”

Christ’s resurrection not only proves that He was the Messiah, but it gives us hope that we too will be raised from the dead. Paul was writing to the Corinthian church which seems to have been struggling with false teachings that there was not going to be a resurrection. He reminds them that if there is no resurrection then our faith is in vain. We’re not just following some man that lived 2000 years ago, we’re following God in the flesh and we can easily see that because of the resurrection. We see throughout 1 Corinthians 15 that Paul reminds the believers that because of the resurrection of Christ there is life for those who follow Him (v 22). If you’ve never read 1 Corinthians 15, go read it, it’s pretty awesome! Remember in Ephesians 2 that we’ve been seated with Christ? The same verse says that we too have been raised with Christ. Our spirit has been made alive from the dead much like Christ was made alive from the belly of the earth. Sin kept us in darkness, bonded and broken, Paul even describes our sin bondage as death (Romans 8). Life comes to the believer because of the resurrection of Christ:

“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. – Romans 8:11”

Paul talks here about how we need life to our mortal [fleshly] bodies, as if even our mortal bodies are dead. That to me points to the resurrection of the dead on the last day. We will be made alive again to live with the Father for all eternity, but even until then our spirits are already seated with Him. If not for the resurrection, our hope is vain, our faith is vain, and we have no future beyond this life, doesn’t it have to be the most important?

So which is it?

Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now, they’re all just as important. Each piece makes up the entire Gospel. Without the birth of Christ there is no life, no example to follow. Without His life, then would He have even been crucified? And we know that without His death his resurrection couldn’t have happened. The important thing to take away here is that He loved the world to such an extent that He was willing to become a child, live this life, set the example for us, then die to make us right with Him and rise to give us a hope in the future!  As SM Lockridge would say “I wonder, do you know Him?”

The Spirit Teacher

The Spirit Teacher

“These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:26-27”

I believe this is probably my most referenced set of scriptures. It’s a nice reminder to me that the Spirit can and does teach us all that we need to know. The Apostle John was writing this letter to defend the church against the Gnostic cult. I don’t want to get too much into Gnosticism, but to put it plainly they were misleading the Church. They were causing the Church to question itself. So John writes his first letter to them. Remember last week that I wrote about context and how important it is to know why the author was writing and to whom? This is just as important. If we take this specific verse on it’s own, then we have no need for anyone else to be leading us in our walk with Christ. But that’s not what John is saying here in totality. The preceding verses 1 John 2:18-28 speak of the spirit of antichrist, and how Jesus is God. John even tells the believers in v20 that they have an anointing from the Holy One and “you know all things”. So the readers of this letter knew that the force of gravity was 9.8 meters per second squared, right? Um…probably not. In fact it seems when reading this in it’s entirety that John was telling them that they know the truth in the whole.

These believers knew that Jesus was the Christ. That the Christ was God. That the Father had sent the Son to be the payment for our sins. They knew that, and yet they were still being mislead. John is trying to remind them here that they know the truth, that the Spirit has revealed the truth to them. Remember when Jesus was at Caesarea Philippi, what did he tell Peter? “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.” Matt 16:13-17.

Notice who taught Peter that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God? It wasn’t Jesus, it wasn’t another disciple but the Father in heaven. So John is reminding the believers of the church that God can and does teach them all that they need to know. Do they still need each other in their lives to help them see some of these things and grow? Of course they do. The Church is supposed to be a community, a family. It’s up to us to bear each other’s burdens (Gal 6) and to pray for and over each other (James 5). We’re supposed to be learning from the Spirit, AND helping one another grow at the same time. If you’re walking in the Spirit you should be learning, if you’re a part of a local group of believers you should ALL be learning and growing together. I have a feeling next week’s post will be along the lines of community of the believers….

Let’s run to the store and get a coke

Let’s run to the store and get a coke

It’s been far too long between posts. I apologize life just got busy. But that’s not why you’re here, you want to read some new perspective, or find some nugget in the Bible that you hadn’t noticed. Well I don’t know about some new nugget, but I do have some new perspective for you. Over the last few months as I have been studying and learning new perspectives continue to jump out at me, sometimes they’re valuable, other times they seem to cause me more confusion than peace. So take everything that I say regarding perspective for just that, another perspective. (Wow that word is getting annoying to type)

“Context is vital” is something that I’ve said for years. I often find myself getting annoyed when someone tries to quote a scripture starting halfway in a sentence. We do that because that’s where someone at some point in history decided to put a verse marker. But is that the right way? When we were having our Tuesday Bible studies we would read an entire chapter of whatever book we were studying to ensure we knew what the author was saying. Sometimes we even had to keep reading into the next chapter, or start at the end of the previous one just so we could be sure we didn’t miss the contextual importance of the few verses we wanted to really discuss. We felt this contextual importance of the section was key to our understanding the verses as they were written. But then my cousin started posting things about context on his Facebook page, and it began to make sense that context isn’t just the verses around the verse you’re looking at, it’s much deeper than that.

If I were to say to you “Let’s run to the store and get a coke” would you know what that means? Like really means? You can be honest with yourself and say, vaguely. Without knowing me personally, where I live, what I drink, you really have only a vague understanding of what I am saying. Let’s make it a little clearer how little that we really know about the statement. I have a friend who if he said “Let’s run to the store and get a coke”, probably literally means run, he runs a lot. Or another friend who simply means “Let’s drive to the store and get a coke”. That’s just one single word from the phrase that without the proper context of who is speaking, where they are, or who their talking to, we can’t really know what they mean. Let’s pick another word, coke, in the rest of the world they likely would mean Coca Cola, but we’re in the south, it could mean anything with carbonation. Location matters, almost as much as speaker. I think we can all agree that “store” in this phrase could be any number of things based on person and/or region.

While this is a little bit of a simple explanation of the gravity of context, it is eye opening when you begin to really apply it to the Scripture. Remember those verses that we like to pick and choose to say what we want? Let’s look at an easy one 1 Tim 5:23. “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments. (NASB)”. Well look there! Paul says it’s not good for us to drink only water and that we should drink some wine every now and then! While, yes Paul was saying that we have to remember that Paul was writing to Timothy, not you or me. We discussed in our Bible study that likely Paul knew that Timothy struggled with stomach issues from their long times together, and was giving him fatherly advice to help with the issues. Does this mean that it’s not OK for us to drink wine? No, but it does mean that we can’t use this verse specifically to make our case. There are so many cases of scriptures being taken out of the context of who, what, when, where, and why that I can’t begin to write about them.

As you are studying the Word, remember that context matters. Not just the verses surrounding the verse you’re looking at, but the entire context. It makes for good study when you begin to see exactly what God meant when He had the words penned, it can change your life. Don’t be afraid of new perspectives on things, sometimes looking at the persepective of the original author and the original reader can help you to understand exactly why the verse matters today because as I think we all know, it all matters.

I’ll be back more often, I really enjoy writing here lately, and business has picked up enough that I can step aside and spend my time doing more things that I enjoy. I hope you’ve enjoyed this and I hope you’ll take it with you next time you begin to study a passage. Leave a comment below with your thoughts and your studies, I’m always looking for more things to read!