Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God wants to redeem all of you...

Walking with Jesus has many seasons. Many peaks, and many valleys. Sins that were struggled with yesterday may not even tempt you today. Sins you never thought you'd struggle with may be what weighs you down most today. And so, I want to offer us a quick, encouraging reminder as you battle with a sin, temptation or struggle: think big picture. Jesus doesn't want to cure you of one struggle. Your walk with Him is not exclusively defined by one sin, by one battle. Jesus wants to redeem all of you.

Let me explain. Many go through a time of sexual struggle, and allow their failures or victories with that struggle to completely define them as a Christian. Many do the same with a struggle with speech. Many struggle financially, and we feel loved by God and closer to Him when he provides materially, and possibly less so when he doesn't. So remember, as you battle a specific sin or test in life, that Jesus doesn't just want to make you pure sexually, or conquer your potty mouth, pride issues, envy, etc. Nor does he just want to provide for you materially. What he wants is to redeem all of you, and make you completely like him in every way. 

CS Lewis puts it best,

"Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment. 
    That is why He warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. ‘Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect— until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.’"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why I (kinda) like Christian Hip Hop

I am the least likely candidate to purchase a hip hop album. I'm a pasty Bible Major kid from the suburbs who loves guitars. In all honesty, the 2 most popular genres of music from my semi-agricultural hometown are country and mariachi. You'd have a triple take if you heard bass n' beats sneaking out the cracked window of my Corolla with 3 plastic hubcaps. But recently, I must confess I've purchased a few Christian Hip Hop albums, and to my surprise, I really enjoy them. Not just because of the beats or the auto-tune, but for real, substantial reasons.

1. Hip Hop is declarative. Hip hop generally comes across as confident, brash, maybe even arrogant. The genre encourages bold declaration. While most hip hop seemingly declares accomplishments of money-making, women-winning, and other self-centered items, Christian hip-hoppers use that same confidence to declare truths about God and commitment to his purpose. For example, to hear Trip Lee boldly declare "to die is gain!" uses the confidence of the genre to declare a great truth of the Christian faith. And, you know what, it really works.

2. Hip Hop allows for deep, specific lyrical expression. You've all heard Christian "rock" songs that seemingly repeat themselves, tying one Christian cliche after another. It may sound good or feel good, but there isn't much depth there, right? Contrarily, Christian hip hop is a great vehicle for many words to be spoken, which allows for great specificity and great depth when explaining biblical truths or spiritual applications. I mean, what recent Christian rock song unpacks the value of church commitment the way that Stephen the Levite does in his "Church Membership" track? Or how about a track on the importance of Biblical Theology, like the one Shai Linne provides? Hip hop allows for deep, specific expression of truth that goes perfectly with Christian truths and living in a way that other genres don't.

3. Everyone loves a good beat. There's a reason the pastiest of my pasty friends will download top 40 tracks and be caught tapping a foot or 3 to those said tracks. Everyone loves a good beat. And you know what, I've found that Christian hip-hoppers have come a long way in their production quality. How much sweeter that beat is when Lecrae, Trip Lee, Sho Baraka and company are declaring gospel truths! Much better than an ode to one's own sexiness, in my opinion :)