From Jerusalem to Emmaus is 7 Miles. Something to think about.
— Follow Armando’s updates on Twitter (@Armando923)
For the past couple of weeks, God has been using a thought, a word, a truth like a chisel on my heart or mind. He is changing and molding me with it in a way I haven’t experienced for a long time. A discussion we had in our Community Group sparked it. The converstaion has popped back into my head so many times that I felt it was time to give it some public air time instead of just keeping it quiet in the corners of my own mind.
Sitting in our basement, gathered around the Word, our group was having a great discussion on how our works earn nothing before God – how we can do NOTHING to show Him how great we are. Someone then asked the question that I think was on many of our minds: “Why then should we go through the trouble to be obedient?” What is the point of “being good” or, to say it more correctly, “doing good things” if God doesn’t stand up, pat us on the back and give us a just reward?
To a life-long goodie-goodie who has spent years wrestling with the ideas of resting in grace while living a holy life, I can’t tell you how many times this question has knocked me off my feet, spiralling me either toward an attitude of frustration or utter complacency.
Then, a voice of truth, from right there in the middle of our group, spoke up and shed light on it for us all (mostly me though I think): “It all depends on how much you trust God. Do I believe that the ‘good things’ God tells me to do are for my good, or are they for my harm?” She went on to argue that God doesn’t just give us arbitrary laws to keep, or expectations that are lofty yet unbeneficial. No, He instructs us to a way of life that is best for us. “God loves us!” she reminded us. “All of His ways are for our good.”
How could I have missed such an obvious answer? God loves me. I forget that way too often. I am quick to believe that God has a list of do’s and don’ts that bring Him glory, but then I stop in my belief. Quite honestly, being obedient for the sheer satisfaction of glorifying God is seldom motivation enough for me to choose His ways over my own. I know I am supposed to be SO grateful for all He has done for me that I am propelled into a life of service, self-denial and cross-bearing, but my flesh is still super weak. It still lulls me into believing that that which kills me (sin) will actually brings me satisfaction. It deceives me into believing that God’s ways are not life, but that His commands will actually steal my life.
Imagine that…a church girl all my life actually believing that God’s ways are harmful to me. I guess they are detrimental in a way – detrimental to my self-constructed, worldly-swayed, comfortable way of life. But then I think, when has chasing after my own way ever led me to satisfaction or joy? In my desperate attempt to “love myself,” I chase after things that I think are good, but are actually bad for me. Maybe I’m not as good at loving myself as I thought…
But God loves me. And He loves me perfectly. He sees the beginning and the end. He sees the mind and the heart. Shoot, He created my mind and heart. He wired them. He knows best what they need, what they crave. Life revived, life centered on and consumed with Him – that is real life. In His overwhelming goodness, He has given me His Word and His Spirit to show me the way to LIFE. Even when my flesh tells me that it is not worth following His path because God won’t give me credit for it, the truth is, I don’t need credit (I have Jesus as my credit), I need LIFE. I need hope. I need the soul satisfaction that only my Creator can provide.
So, yes, God’s ways are higher. They display His wisdom and power and providence. When I follow them, I preach to the world that I believe He is God and His ways are best. But at the end of the day, actually at the beginning, middle and end of the day, it is the knowledge that His ways are also good for me that will keep me centered on obedience. I can fully trust His promises to bless those who follow His ways – not because “doing good” makes me a good person – but only His life path is designed to lead me to the truly good life.
When you think of Rap or HipHop – what is the first thought that comes to mind? Kanye West? C@$h Money? Bling? Black dudes? Drugs? Slangin? Murder?
Growing up I was always attracted to HipHop. Unfortunately, HipHop in the 80s & 90s didn’t give me the best message being a 14 year old kid. Listening to artists like 2pac, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, The Nortorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls), & Bone Thugs encouraged a teenager like myself to: sleep with as many women as possible (the “love-em and leave-em” mentality), get rich & flaunt it (any way possible – mainly by selling drugs or making an album), disobey any type of authority figure (sometimes for no reason – just to do it), if someone gets in the way of your success – kill them, literally.
The message has been sold and sold to kids (some beginning as young as infants). When I think of HipHop, I now think of a genre of music that God as created so that we could worship the Lord Jesus with conviction and joy!
When I think of HipHop, I now think of how much of a joyful noise I could make singing along with men like Shai Linne, Lecrae, Tedashii, Trip Lee, Timothy Brindle, DJ Essence (esso), Flame, & Azriel. These young men God has used to take HipHop to a place that teaches me, convicts me, & allows me to rejoice in my Maker & Creator – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Where other “Christian” artists can be sung by other sects of “Christianity” – I call “non-Christianity”, these men make it clear what they believe and what Jesus they are glorifying.
Here is just a sample of lyrics that were written by my brother in Christ
Shai Linne – Jesus is Alive
Give praise to King Jesus, the blessed Son
victorious, glorious resurrected One
To Him belongs the power, glory and honor
Ascended where He sits at the right hand of the Father
At the cross He made atonement- His people He saved
After three days He was raised in defeat of the grave
By faith the elect behold Him, His scepter is golden
He must have been hot or slippery because death couldn’t hold Him
The spotlight is on today’s icons
In a thousand years, nobody will care- their light’s gone
But at that time, Christ will still shine bright
He’s not in the limelight- He IS the limelight
Criminal minded, you’ve been blinded
Looking for the body of Jesus? You won’t find it
We never lack spirit, letting you cats hear it
Because His tomb is empty like most secular rap lyrics
Oh how these lyrics feed my soul with amazing spiritual food. I hope that the music that you listen to will ultimately lead you to praise the Father and not some false savior like money, women, sex, drugs, or status. It seems like this is the way HipHop should be – HipHop redeemed.
You can pick up Shai Line’s albums at your local Christian bookstore. If they don’t carry – tell them to carry it. Or you can check him out on iTunes.
I’ll end with a clip of Shai Linne live in Long Beach, CA. Peace!