Monday, December 22, 2008

Preach Righteousness

"We don't stand here to proclaim our righteousness but to proclaim the righteousness of God's Son (2 Corinthians 4:5).

-Richard Caldwell (my pastor)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You Are Safe (Spurgeon on Election)

John 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard, for some are made the special objections of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. Desire to have your mind enlarged that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munition of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements witht he surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting places of trembling spirits.

If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul, then, my soul, until God Hiimself shall be unfaithful. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my sould, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Emcee R.C. Sproul

My previous post pointed out the self-centered and haughty lyrics of holy hip hop. I want to make it clear that there are exceptions within this genre that glorify God with Christ-centered lyrics. Here is a perfect example from Timothy Brindle and Shai Linne. If R.C. Sproul decided to pick up a mic and rap instead of picking up a pen to write, this is what he may have sounded like.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Haughty Hip Hop

Before I got saved, I was a dj for about 7 years (back when turntables and records meant something) and being a native Houstonian, I was exposed to the southern rap that infects the clubs and radio stations in my hometown. I hated it. There was no substance to the message and it was littered with profanity, sexual content, and self gratification. As an alternative, I always had a love for underground hip hop or what was commonly referred to as hip hop with a conscience….or so I thought. You had your Mos Def’s, Talib Kweli’s, and if you’re from Houston, the K-Otix.

I listened to KTRU & DJ Theory on Tuesday nights on a consistent basis. The hip hop had substance and a love for knowledge and righteousness…err…self-righteousness. There was an arrogant swagger behind it all but I saw it as positive because at the time, being a self-righteous individual, I desired lyrics that were puffed up in head knowledge and self-empowerment. And of course, they weren’t talking about sex, drugs, and violence…they were busy worshipping themselves.

Then you had the more mainstream artists like Tupac and Nas portraying themselves as a "Black Jesus" and elevating their status in the hip hop industry to that of a messiah or savior.Emcees even went so far to call each other "god" in their lyrics. Either way you look at it, hip hop and rap was, and still is, a culture and genre full of idolatrous, self-righteous and blasphemous depictions of rappers that think very highly of themselves.

It was after I got saved that I noticed this self-centered, proud and boastful message. I traded in my turntables for a Bible and I gave up my deejay profession and the music it supported.

It was then I discovered a whole genre of hip hop out there for the Christian. I discovered Holy Hip Hop. Unfortunately, I hardly found anything “holy”…in fact, what I found was eerily similar to what I heard as a dj…a lot of boasting, self-confidence, and lyrical competitiveness.

The more I heard Christian emcees boasting of themselves, the more I was reminded of Peter’s bravado on the night Jesus foretold of His forsaking by the disciples.

“You will fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered’” (Matthew 26:31).

But Peter full of pride and self-confidence boldly asserted: “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away" (v.33).

Peter then went on to suffer one of the greatest falls of his life. He had a chance to back-up his presumptuous boasting but instead, he denied Jesus not once…not twice…but three times (Matthew 26:69-74).

We also know that God used Peter’s fall to humble and teach him a hard-learned lesson. Later in Luke’s gospel account, Jesus reinstates Peter by asking him if he loves Him three times. After Peter responds with an affectionate affirmation, Jesus then commands him to feed His sheep. And Peter does just that as we find a different apostle behind the first letter he wrote to the early Church.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so at the proper time, he may exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:5-6)

Peter knew firsthand that misplaced self-confidence leads directly to a fall as he denied Christ three times. And as a leader of the apostles whom God would build His Church upon (Matthew 16:18), Peter had to be humbled by being stripped of all his pride.

With that said, Holy Hip Hop has a unique platform in the church as well as in the music industry. And if Christian rappers, djs, etc. are to attach the term “holy” to the genre, which means to be set apart, let them be just that…set apart from secular hip hop by glorifying God through their music.

And after popping in a new compilation cd, “Wages of Syntax vol. 2” from Syntax Records, I didn’t really hear a difference. Like Peter on the night before Christ was crucified, I hear a lot of proud and self-centered boasting. And sadly, I found this to be true of many Holy Hip Hop artists. Add to that Christian reviews that judge and critique the music merely based on sound and lyrical artistry, and not sound doctrine, then you have yourself a genre that competes for the number one spot on the Holy Hip Hop charts.

So if you’re an mc, dj, producer, etc. I encourage you to think about the platform and the talent God has blessed you with. And in the midst of a hip hop culture that exalts and worships the music and not the Maker, make sure your lyrics are Christ-centered...not man-centered...and rather than using your music to exalt your name, exalt the Name who is above all names…Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9), who is the only one worthy of adoration and praise, and at the proper time, He may exalt you.