Confessions of a Preacher

*preface* This may be too transparent for some of you. If you have an image of a crispy clean young man who’s “on fire” for God, read with caution if at all…

There are many times (really all the time) when I just pause at the idea of me being a Christian. I’m so much more morally bankrupt than those unsaved people around me. I stumble into pride, lust, hypocrisy, gluttony, laziness and foolishness often…there are folk who if they had my shoes would be doing much better morally, I know it. I know it because they are in situations much worse than me and are much more moral than I am. The fact that God’s mercy is new every morning is still not fully grasped in my heart, which is a lack of faith, another testament of my shortcomings and God’s grace in spite of myself.

I really don’t NEED to hang around folk. My desire and idolization of acceptance pushes me to hang around folk, but my other idol of self dependence and secrecy push me to be alone. Even when I play spades with folk, often my aim is to win and big up myself, not simply enjoy community. A thing as simple and seemingly innocent as spades becomes a prop to the idol of self preservation and improvement… I glory in being a winner, in being right, even in a stupid game of cards.

As much as I rail against the unloving self righteous pseudo Christian, I am extremely unloving to those people, or people I self-righteously judge to be so, making me just as bad as those I tweet/preach/facebook against. “Oh, I get on your nerves? Then don’t talk to me, it’s not like you’re adding anything to my growth. You don’t like how I preach? Well forget you then, if you knew the Gospel you’d like it. I don’t need your community or your love, I do well just by myself.” The same arrogant, entrepreneurial, hypocritical Christianity I preach against I myself find myself living in with sprinkles of “Gospel-centeredness” on top.

I work hard. Very hard. 3-5 jobs hard. I justify it by saying I’m giving it and saving it to plan for a family that will glorify God. I hardly give to the local church as much as I budget initially, and even when I do I battle a fierce beast of pride and self righteousness. I don’t look to the fact that Jesus has established me through His work on the Cross because I look at my own work and think I am established, or at least close. I fail to work out my salvation with fear and trembling and instead work to fill my pockets with fearless pride. I justify who and how valuable I am through the jobs and money I have saved, the things I can afford on my own, failing to realize God is the one who gave me everything to earn what I don’t even give back to Him.

….I could go on. But pause and think about this: God through Himself saved me knowing I would be where I am and loves me enough to continue to not leave me or forsake me, but in fact sanctify me. He continues to reign down on my life…mercies and grace. My life doesn’t make any sense in a karma sense. In fact, I deserve death, but God in the blood of my own menstrual rags of righteousness said live…I am so nobody. No..body. But Jesus is Somebody and was Somebody for me on the Cross dying and raising for me…freeing me from living up to the expectations presented by my parents, society, even the expectations set by myself. Those character flaws listed are not up to me to correct because they have been paid for on the Cross. Even me re-realizing my identity in Jesus and submitting to the Spirit is done through the mind of Christ given to me by Christ. Thankful.

Please pray for me. I want to love more, submit more, lead more….die more to live more.

I love you.

The Invasion

I couldn’t hardly believe it. I had seen the tweets so I rushed to a computer and punched in www.bet.com. Sure enough there was Trip Lee, a Christian rap artist, on the 106&Park page. Recently I was given the opportunity to serve as an artist assistant at a concert Trip did in Houston at Good Hope, I mean I had just seen the man in the flesh and there he was a few days later being featured on BET, he had crossed over into a popular ‘secular’ venue.  I mean his picture was on the website for all to see, the gospel message was conveyed in his song, and the entire video played on national television!

A couple days later I saw a tweet put out by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (pictured to the right). Curry’s tweet implied that he was a Trip Lee fan! In my mind I was like my goodness, through hip hop and rap God is allowing the gospel to enter the homes of many and music like Trip Lee’s is being promoted and publicly talked about by popular figures in our culture like Curry. I was ecstatic. This thing felt like a movement fa real, it felt like gospel music was infiltrating the world!

But where was the shock coming from? I had thoughts like-they’re listening to what WE listen to? Hey look, that’s OUR music! Wow, what does BET want with a gospel artist? These thoughts weren’t born out of selfishness, I just didn’t quite understand.

If you read the book of Acts you’ll see that one of the greatest barriers to spreading the gospel was the Jewish-Gentile conflict. Most Jews thought it unlawful to speak or hang around Gentiles. That’s why it was so radical for Jews to see Jesus chillin with tax collectors or prostitutes. Today we would call Gentiles non-Christians. But if you closely examine Jesus’ life on earth, you’ll find that it was the people culture had deemed unclean, unworthy, or unrespectable who felt the most comfortable around Jesus. And rightly so, because they recognized their need for a Savior, they were willing to admit that they needed Him. And they were the very reason Jesus had come. ‘ It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…for I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners’ (Matt 9:12-13). He had come for the unclean and the unrespectable, those who were spiritually sick.

It’s easy to get caught up in making sure that you belong in the group of respectables. The church today has an affinity for attracting middle-class, respectable attendees. We’re happy to sit in our bubbles of respectable-ness, separating ourselves from the world of non-Christians.

Not everyone was happy that Trip would agree to appear on BET. But as agents of change we are here to seek the lost, here to point the sick to the Healer. In an interview Trip did while in Houston he said, “Every culture needs missionaries…” He went on to explain that hip-hop is a culture and we just can’t turn our backs to it because it’s viewed as ‘secular.’

Trip’s point was, whether it’s hip hop, the armed services, or scrapbooking, every culture needs missionaries proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is our commission; there should be no shock, no surprise when we see Christians reaching into the secular world. What are we doing if we do not reach into the secular world? What are you doing if you are not impacting the culture you are a part of? Who are you helping if you don’t bring light to the darkness around you? This is our commandment that we ‘Go into ALL the world and preach the good news to ALL creation’ (Mark 16:15).

This series of events has been a major reminder of the great commission. The Holy Spirit will move and God will have His way whether you’re willing to go or not. I just pray that we make ourselves available to Him, so that we can be used to reach all races, in every culture, throughout all the world.