Confession Time

I have a confession to make. Rap makes me happy. Now, this isn't something I've completely embraced in my life quite yet because I have been so opposed to it my entire life. I spent the majority of my youth in basketball locker rooms listening to rap. I wanted to like it and found the bass intoxicating but it was so filthy I grew to hate it. Also, basketball is a very rhythmic sport that is more enjoyable when accompanied by music but there is something about playing basketball to DC Talk and Audio Adrenaline (music from my youth) that just isn't right. So I'm bitter. Not just because of the filthiness but because it robbed my childhood and teenage years.

Now you might say, "What about Christian rap?" My response would be, "Did you hear 90's, early 2000's Christian rap?" Can anyone say T-Bone? No thank you. I applaud the attempt but really, "T-Bone". The name alone makes me want to quit my day job and become NateDawg the rapper. Not to mention the guy is white. White people shouldn't rap, period. It's all good though. I've always had country music to keep my soul warm but once again there is something about jamming out to "Low Places" or "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" that just doesn't mesh with the rhythm of the game.

About a year ago, a fellow youth pastor introduced me to the 116 Clique who are a group of rappers out of Dallas. After opening my soul to him about the pains of rap music in my life, he said I needed to listen to these guys. He said, "Not only are they good, they bring the gospel." This was intriguing because I always thought Hip Hop/Rap was a good outlet for the gospel. When done right it is a true art form that packs a message. Unfortunately that message has been sex, drugs, and repeat. So against my better judgement, deep scars and all, I listened to some of these guys. Sure enough they were good and the message was profound. Here are a couple of lyrics from a couple of guys I really like.

"I know it's gonna kill me but I just can't let it go
And the taste so appealing got a grip up on my soul
These honey dip lies mesmerize me
Cries got it crooked figure's twisted all inside me
Fools walk the path I'm on never to be seen again
Sippin' on seduction while we eaten on some secret sin
There's a whisper in my ear and I know I should be over this
But I ain't seein' clear
And I ain't leavin' here unless somebody save me
Walk into my grave lettin' evil enslave me
Evil looks so lovely covered in her lace of lies
And her silky smooth seduction just manipulates my mind
Her fabric of fabrication is fuelin' my fascination
While I'm intoxicated she starts her assassination
Losing all my honor and my years to the merciless
Givin' all my life away but I'm so immersed in this, Killa" -Lecrae

"Yeah I was blinded in the past, like my mind was in the trash
Incapable of doing good or even finding him the task
Was beyond what I could grasp, my righteousness is rags
So He had to do all the work, by His design you do the math
The math, who get's the glory, hey who get's the praise?
Predestined, I was elected, resurrected from the grave
Plus His loved was never based on my past or present state
On anything that I obtained I was a mess but blessed with grace
By grace, I'm in love with Him
He gave me something within
He doesn't love me cause of me nope He loves me because of Him
No He didn't have to save and raise me when I was dead
But He dragged me out the morgue, now the praise of His name is spread
He died for all He would save, it's crazy the Savior bled
Erasing taking my dread, and gave me some grace instead
The kind I wouldn't resist, I came praise be to Him
And I'm confident if I'm in Him Ima make it to the end with eyes open" - Trip Lee

What conclusions have I come to in this? I'm still the same guy, boots, fishin', country music, but I like a little gospel rap. Now you can judge me if you like but don't be shocked to find me driven around town with the bass pumpin'. It's the gospel.

Where did your beliefs come from?

Psalm 1:1-4 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Why do you believe the things you do? What has caused you to have the convictions you have? Throughout the Psalms and Proverbs we see things as very black and white. Either you serve man or you serve God. Either your thoughts are driven by the flesh or by the Spirit. Either you believe the foolishness of the world or the truth of God. Your beliefs and convictions have come from one of two places; the culture or the gospel. It is very easy to let the culture characterize our convictions in the church. The culture says success is in numbers. Hope is in possessions. Love is in tolerance. Joy is in fame. These types of convictions seem to be in contradiction to the teachings of scripture but they drive our ministries. We give away free stuff to fill our pews, teach on the best way to prosper, open our doors to all lifestyles, and seek the renown of men. What is the cost; those who say “Lord, Lord” but who He does not know.

The one who is blessed in Psalm 1 is he who does not walk by the standards of men but delights in God’s law. This word “delight” speaks of all that makes God’s chosen happy. It is more than his pleasure, it is his chief desire. Is our chief desire God’s law? This is more than just love and devotion to God's word but is total obedience to it. If we are to be successful as a church, our focus should never be on the pride of men but on the glory of God. Let us delight in His law and trust in His authority over us as the body. Here we will find stability like a tree planted by streams of water.

Matt Chandler on Healing

This is just a short clip compared to all the good stuff he's said since he got cancer but this one spoke to me the most. God forgive me for not pursuing You, my family, and my ministry with this as my focus. Teach me to number my days.

People of the Flesh

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.”

Division in the church is rooted in selfishness. Here Paul is dealing with a group of people who are completely wrapped up in their own personal agenda, who they like better, and it is causing division. How unfortunate it is for churches to be full of selfish church goers. "We come for ourselves", they say. He calls them "people of the flesh" and rightfully so. The purpose of the church is not self gratification but God glorification.

It seems the specific issue for the church at Corinth is numbers. Notice who Paul attributes growth to; God. Maybe we would grow like the early church did if we realize it is not about us, get out of the way, and allow God to work freely among us. This growth, the type of growth we see in Acts chapter 2, is healthy biblical growth. The church is producing numerous bible believing Christ followers. They are radically on fire for the gospel and know how to handle its truth with passion and confidence. They are experiencing quantity growth and quality growth. We fail so miserably at this in the church because our growth models are based solely on quick fix quantity goal. "How can we get people in the doors?" Maybe our growth models need to be based on the gospel and its proclamation. People will come if we stop hiding behind attractive facades and proclaim unashamedly the gospel of Christ. Or will they? What if people don't come? Most likely people won't come initially but the churches throughout modern history who have had the greatest legacies are the ones who have been faithful to gospel proclamation. We are not responsible for the response but for the proclamation of truth.

The conclusion in this is selfishness. Selfishness, selfishness, selfishness. It is time that we stop looking to ourselves and looking to Christ. Are we more concerned with self gratification or Christ glorification? What are we doing as individuals to bring Him glory in the Church?

The Bible On Parenting

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

The book of Proverbs makes “the way we can go” very simple for us. We can either follow the way of the fool and the wicked or the way of the wise and the righteous. The command in this verse is “train.” Obviously the child is the one receiving the actions and the parent is the one performing it. What are we to train our children in, “the way they should go.” The way they should go is the way of wisdom and righteousness.

There is no sane parent who desires for their child to go the way of the fool. So why would the writer have to command us to train our children in righteousness? Because our sinful parenting worldview tells us to raise good citizens rather than righteous Jesus followers. If our kids grow up, get a good job, find success, get married, provide us with grandchildren, and stay out of serious trouble, we feel our job as parents has been successful. Is this the standard God sets for us; good old boys who are successful and stay out of trouble? No. The standard God sets for us is perfection (1 Peter 1:15) and we as parents are called to teach our children this way. So often we are complacent as parents and are satisfied with successful children who go to church once a week. Don’t misunderstand me, we need to equip our children with the tools they need for success but are we majoring in career preparation and minoring in eternity preparation?

Jesus said in Mark, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” Our churches are full of children and teenagers who are swamped by extracurricular activities with the objective being to gain the world. Then we spin our heads as evangelical parents wondering why our kids go to college and the last priority on their list is finding a local church to join. The things we emphasize most on our children are the things they will emphasize most on theirs. What do we emphasize most in our kids week? Homework time or bible study time. Activities time or church time. TV time or family worship time. Busy time or stillness time. Don’t forget the consequence in the verse. “When he is old, he will not depart from it.”