“But this is not the way of life that Christ has unfolded within you. If you have really experienced the Anointed One, and heard his truth, it will be seen in your life; for we know that the ultimate reality is embodied in Jesus!
And he has taught you to let go of the lifestyle of the ancient man, the old self – life, which was corrupted by sinful and deceitful desires that spring from delusions. Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you.And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him! For God has re-created you all over again in his perfect righteousness, and you now belong to him in the realm of true holiness.”
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.
I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me,but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.“
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus the majority of the churches in North America have closed their doors. Some are doing livestreams. Others have resigned to sending emails and prayer chains.
What does this means for the state of the global Church? Is this a massive blow to the Gospel, to evangelism, to the Church’s relevance in our society?
We need to keep praying for our world and for our communities and prepare for the end of this.
Historically, after war, famine and plague there has been massive revivals.
We are believing for revival after the end results of COVID-19. People will be looking for hope.
The Church must be prepared. We must be in prayer and seeking the Lord.
The spiritual climate as of late has been dark. We have seen an increase of sickness and hardships and now a pandemic that has left Canada in a state of disparity, worry, fear and distrust. You can see it in the eyes of those you pass at the grocery store as people in a panic grab everything they can get their hands on. Selfishness rules the day as people worry about number one and act out in irrational fear.
Jesus did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity but a spirit of power, love and of self control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
We cannot afford to buy into the wisdom of the world. We must cling to the wisdom of God which is a wisdom birthed by faith and by the Holy Spirit.
The Church has always risen to the opportunity to love in every terrible situation. In every war, in every natural disaster and in every plague. By being the hands and feet of Christ we cancel the assignments of the enemy. The darkness around us is his doing and he wishes to cripple the Church for the coming revival. I hear of 2020 being a “bad year.” People are resigning 2020 as some sort of write-off due to the present situation. What the Holy Spirit said to me at the beginning of the year and what He is still saying is that 2020 will be a year of harvest. He has told me this prior to this health crisis and He has not changed His mind. What the Holy Spirit has proclaimed will not be superseded by the works of the enemy. However, we must stand firm with the light that is within us.
Last week was Saint Patrick’s day. His life story is very timely in our present state. He was a man radically devoted to being Christ’s light in the darkness. He was a missionary in a society devoted to pagan religion which practised witchcraft and human sacrifices.
I am reminded of when the King of Ireland proclaimed no fire to be lit in all of Ireland in celebration of a Druid holiday.
Saint Patrick defied this order and lit a large fire on the highest hill. It burned bright in the darkness.
When he was brought before the King and was asked why he would defy the order, he preached the Gospel. He stated that Jesus is the light in the dark night. That His flame comes and extinguishes the darkness in our hearts. He expressed the truth of Jesus being the light of the world!
St. Patrick was bold in the darkness. He almost single handily turned the hearts and minds of the people of Ireland to Christ. One man or women with the Holy Spirit can do more then a hundred men and women without Him.
The last two weeks my family and I have been going through struggles not directly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been up late every night and we are weary. As I lamented to Jesus about my weariness and the way things don’t seem to be going right for us, He spoke to me.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)
This is a call not to be inactive but to trust Jesus with what you cannot control. I cannot micromanage all my circumstances–sickness, pestilence, natural disaster, other people’s actions. Much of this is out of our control. We can only do what we can do. In every actions we need to have faith that the Holy Spirit will use us. With what is out of our control we need to have faith that Jesus will see us through.
If we look at the verses that precede verse 14:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” (Exodus 14:13)
How many times did Jesus say “Fear not”?
This is a command of peace. Stand firm in your troubles. Stand firm at this time of disease and unrest.
What does standing firm look like?
Doing what the Church has always done. Sharing Jesus with everyone you meet.
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, drive out demons. Give as freely as you have received.” (Matthew 10:8)
Leprosy was considered a highly contagious disease in Jesus day. Yet Jesus and His disciples didn’t hesitate to lay hands upon the leper to bring healing. This must be our same attitude facing those ill with COVID-19. Take precautions if need be, like wearing a proper face mask and gloves but do not ignore the need. Jesus has called us to a time like this.
We hear a great deal about using wisdom. Wisdom and fear are miles apart. Fear and faith are total opposites. We serve a mighty God who does not compromise His commands or love on the back of a virus. His wisdom is the wisdom of love not of fear.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were condemned to be thrown into the fire as a result of obeying God rather than men, they said: “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”( Daniel 3:16-18)
They were un-afraid of death for they knew they were doing the will of God. They had faith that they would be delivered. Even more they had faith that they were held by God even in death. Their faith went beyond safety and went into eternity.
That is the hope that believers in Christ are to hold.
“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” (Matthew 16:25)
“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past.
And I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die.
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.
But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ.
So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.
But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.” (Philippians 1:20-24)
Our lives are gifted to us to be used by God. To love Christ, to serve Christ. When we spend our lives in the service of the King there is no throwing away your life. There is no “saving your life” if we are not willing to do the things Jesus has commanded us to do.
Foolishness would be putting yourself in harms way for no purpose or reason. The Gospel is always a worthwhile reason. Every action, every twist and turn of our lives should be focused on the Gospel.
Wisdom says take the precautions you can without subverting evangelism, without subverting your call, your purpose or the Gospel. Trusting the Holy Spirit is protecting you and will protect you until the end. It is trusting that when your life does end, Christ will keep you into eternity.
Above all “Fear not for God is with you.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Don’t allow precaution to turn to fear. Do not allow this virus to make you fearful of people. People need Jesus and many are realizing their need for Him for the very first time. Those around you need the peace you carry.
The Holy Spirit’s power is unaffected by COVID-19 and He lives within you.
His power still wants to flow forth from you, touching the lives of those who desperately need Jesus.
Do you need to lay hands on people? No, most people would not be receptive to that at this time. The Holy Spirit moves and touch’s others at the moment you open your mouth to pray. His peace will rush over all you speak to in Jesus name.
You can bring food to those shut in due to this virus. You can help the more vulnerable in society by running errands for them. There are lineups for the banks, for the grocery stores, everywhere. You are a light of hope. While you stand there waiting. Smile and make conversation. People need to see us unafraid and joyful. We need to share where our joy comes from. Our joy comes from the Lord. There is so much we can accomplish for Christ if we walk forward and do not allow fear to govern our lives.
The enemy would use fear, confusion, and this plague to see the Church grow stale.
Jesus would have us rise to the occasion.
This is the moment when the first sparks of the coming revival are lit.
We are to be those sparks.
We are the light of the world, a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14)
“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
Choose to be the light in the darkness.
Choose to stand up to fear.
Let your faith increase.
Trust in God. Not in man.
We are here at this junction of history for a reason and a purpose. You were created and formed for Christ’s kingdom strategy at this time. Through this crisis, you are the hands and feet of Christ.
Kanye West shouts out his proclamation of Jesus’ lordship on his new album, “Jesus is King.” This 11-track, 27-minute gospel-themed hip hop record, came out October 25 with much fanfare and has been deemed revolutionary by the masses. Mixing the themes of a gospel record with the sounds of hip hop. To many, this is unheard of. It was the number one record with streaming services who reported large amount of streams and downloads.
Meanwhile, with very little fanfare, in the month of October, Rawsrvnt released the song “Walk with God” featuring Lil Raskull.
I downloaded both “Jesus is King” and “Walk with God” the very same day and played them back to back. Musically, they melt together seamlessly, as the production values are both excellent. Lyrically “Walk with God” shows a great deal of maturity and depth. yet it received very little air play.
Kanye’s lyrics too are thought provoking and drip with themes of redemption, worship and the celebration of salvation through Christ Jesus. I have heard of more than one individual being brought to tears by the tracks on “Jesus is King”. It is truly a beautiful album.
“Walk with God.” features the veteran gospel rapper Lil Raskull who has been spitting out verses about Jesus since 1996. His three masterpiece works of the late 90’s “Cross Bearing,” “Gory 2 Glory” and “The Day After” still set the standard for the genre lyrically and musically.
Rawsrvnt’s talent as a beat maker the last number of years has shown his ability to produce tracks of great quality and creativity.
Kanye is still new to the gospel game. And as we have seen in the past just because you can rap about sex, drugs, guns and partying doesn’t mean you can transcend to rapping about salvation, redemption and justification.
There has been more than a few rappers who have left secular hip hop to become ministers and followers of Christ. Those who return to hip hop often times present new tracks which besides a few references to God and the absence of vulgar language seems to be stuck rapping about what is left for a born again Christian who still ascribed to hip hop’s limited subject matter—money.
The result is rather boring and uninspired records.
It is clear Kanye has not pigeonholed himself to hip hop’s shallow subject matter. In “Jesus is King” he raps enthusiastically about the peace, love and joy he has found in Jesus and is honest about the struggles he has to become “Christ like”.
I read one review where the writer expressed that he was in favour of the record only being 27 minutes, as the content would become tiresome if the album went longer. This is a good start for Kanye and I am sure as he grows in Christ his lyrics will gain a new found depth. As a first outing “Jesus is King” is a great start into gospel-themed hip hop. Jesus has obviously done a work in Kanye’s heart and he is not ashamed to present what Christ has done for him to the world.
I have read reviews claiming that it is very difficult for a rapper to leave behind the lyrical cues of the genre. The profanity, the lewdness, the rapping about partying, girls and drugs. This is why many are shocked Kanye could produce even 27 mins of content focusing on Jesus being King, Lord, Saviour and God.
But difficult as it may be, look at the many Christian rappers who have done amazing music over the years.
Kanye may now be bringing gospel theme hip hop into vogue but many rappers have done it with a similar story, though without being in the spotlight as Kanye is.
Take for example Lil Raskull who I mentioned earlier. He started off as rapper on the rise in Texas. He turned to Christ and his lyrical skills were unaffected by his conversion. The depth they conveyed were deep spiritual truths with conviction and boldness. His first three records are considered Christian Hip Hop classics and in the late 1990’s he was the top artist at GrapeTree Records which had a whole slew of secular hip hop artists who had turned their lives to Christ.
Ras and many of the others on that label have similar stories as Kayne as they gave up lifestyles of money and earthly pleasures, some even large record deals to follow Christ.
Unlike Kanye West, gospel hip hop never paid and they were not celebrated by the mainstream or by those in the Church.
Many in the main stream Christian market felt uncomfortable with the artist’s honest depictions of their lives before Christ, their redemption stories and what they witnessed in engaging within their culture.
In general CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) has felt uncomfortable with the genre and even those they once accepted into the fold like KJ-52 have been having a hard time making a living as of late.
On “Hands Off”, Kanye laments “what have you been hearing from the Christians? They be the first ones to judge me, now feel like nobody love me.”
That is par for the course as GrapeTree Records folded from lack of support and distribution. Their artists scattered, many having to give up on music, the few like Lil Raskull forging forward.
From what I hear and see many Christians are accepting Kanye and those in the mass media are praising him for his creativity.
I very much enjoyed “Jesus is King” as I enjoyed “Walk with God.” They are both on regular rotation as I drive, work out and do dishes.
As I listen, I can’t help but compare and what comes to my mind is “What about all those artists who came before Kayne?”
I think of emcees like Lil Raskull, LG Wise, NuWine, Mr. G Reality, even D Boy who was shot down in the early nineties for leading gang members to Christ. These men not only were producing quality music but their honesty and artistic integrity elevated the genre as a whole. However they were rarely recognized for their talents or their contribution to Hip Hop.
I celebrate Kanye’s choice to follow Christ and am happy to hear him proclaim Jesus on the new album and in interviews. I celebrate as I celebrate every new believer.
We as the Church need to accept him as we accept every new believer.
I do wish those in the Christian community would accept and support the other fantastic Christian artists making Hip Hop. Those in charge of Christian labels, magazines and marketing were wrong for their rejection of these artists. I am happy to see many are changing their minds with Kanye’s “Jesus is King” and I pray that those in the Christian Market will follow in accepting and supporting Christian Hip Hop as a whole.
The Christian culture should be that of radical love and have open arms to those who have come out of drugs, alcohol, fornication, a life of crime and of partying. We should embrace their love story in Christ not reject them because of their checkered past. Christ has won the victory. The past is dead. We are alive In Him.
As Christ celebrates every lost soul returning to Him, we should also. Only Christ judges the heart. We are to support, encourage, celebrate and accept everyone who enters into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is King. Praise His name for bringing those who were lost into His Kingdom.
Believe that what I did on the cross really took away your sin?
Well, yeah God. I do!
Then why do you keep identifying with your sin, rather than identifying as being in Christ?
You can’t identify as being in Me and being a sinner. You see my child, when I died on the cross, I took your sin.
My blood paid for your freedom.
I have given you everything.
It is all available to you.
So, why my child, do you keep looking to your sin, which I took instead of looking to me?
Well, I believe you took away my sin God, BUT I’m human. I’m not perfect, I still get angry and hold bitterness and unforgiveness, I’m lazy and give into an attitude a lot of the time and even lash out once and a while.
God, you see, I still sin.
So maybe I’m not a sinner but I still sin.
You see me. You know. I will never measure up to your standard God.
I LOVE YOU!
I LOVE YOU!
I LOVE YOU!
Because of My death, My resurrection and My ascension. I now sit here at the right hand of the Father. My blood has been put on the mercy seat so that everything in Heaven and Earth would be accessible to YOU!
This is your inheritance.
I paid for your freedom.
Why do you insist on taking your old sinful nature and habits and bringing them into this new life I have given you?
Let them die and be in Christ.
So, you can truly live in the freedom I have paid a high price to give to you.
“In a short time God began to manifest His power and soon the building could not contain the people. Now the meetings continue all day and into the night and the fire is kindling all over the city and surrounding towns. Proud, well-dressed preachers come in to “investigate.” Soon their high looks are replaced with wonder, then conviction comes, and very often you will find them in a short time wallowing on the dirty floor, asking God to forgive them and make them as little children.”
– William J.Seymour
“On the day of Pentecostall the believers were meeting together in one place.Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.“