Gated Devotion

In this stream of time
Wretched heart of mine
Awakened by love divine

Deity invaded humanity
Eternity invaded time
Royalty invaded poverty
Oh this God entranced mercy

I lay in awed adoration
My heart screams in exaltation
The Lord my salvation
I offer a gated devotion

Consecrate me so you may use me
I live in watchfulness
As I plough for usefulness
For I delight in the heavens
For to God my heart is woven

In This Side of Glory

In this side of glory,
Oh, Holy One, I am wholly Yours.
In the secrets, find me true,
I stand a pilgrim headed for You.
Prone to wander,
remedied by endless wonder.

Bruise me with thorns,
if the world I begin to long.
Let the furnace do its work,
on conflicts that I am yoked.
In the permanence of the Divine,
my journey is bind.

The heavenly beauty of your majesty,
prompts me to bow my knees.
Jesus, my noblest pleasure
my ultimate treasure.
Most gracious, most glorious
Most holy, most worthy
I am wholly yours, I will worship you.

I will not wait for tomorrow,
to do what I should have done yesterday.
I will worship you all day.
I stretch my hands,
raise worship that knows no end.

Church & Government

Let’s begin with some Scriptural facts: The civil government is the sword-wielding agent designated to deliver and dispense justice in our community. Yes, this is the foundational purpose of the civil government. We see the first manifestation of this in the garden when an angel was designated by God to bar entry to Adam and Eve through the use of an instrument of force—a sword.

In essence, the civil government is the entity that is legally endowed with the right to use force to compel its citizens to obedience. Yes, that is the Scriptural picture of governance and that is the fundamental purpose of an earthly government. While we understand that civil government would include many other webs of jurisdiction, it certainly helps to know that on the onset, its primary established role is to get people to obey.

What does that tell us? It gives us an idea that left to our sinful selves, we are all crime-making machines. We are all anarchists, arsonists, racists, rioters, rapists, and murderers waiting to happen! Thus, the earthly government is the institution ordained to curb the external manifestation of the inner fangs. It is a God-ordained provision of mercy. Without the government, it will be a wild pandemonium.

Israel was a theocracy, a nation led by God through different ordained magistrates. The priests, prophets, and kings didn’t need to beat each other up with debates over the separation of the state and the church. It was a non-issue because both offices were interdependent on each other. However, we would discover in the New Testament that this was no longer the case. Jewish Christians eventually found themselves exposed and subjected to secular governments. For a number of years, these governments weren’t hospitable to Christianity at all. Interestingly, this is where we find ourselves in. We are Christians living in a post-modern world that has a growing hostility against us. This is where we will find Paul’s exhortation in Romans 13 helpful.

In a nutshell, Romans 13 calls us to be subjects to governing authorities. I would understand if an eyebrow is raised.

Let us settle a few things first. First, all governments are representative of fallen humanity. Meaning to say all earthly governments are corrupt. All. Corrupt hearts produce corrupt governments. So, understand that no matter how excellent a policy or reform is, a corrupt system cannot bear the weight of a good policy. Wild as it may seem, Augustine calls the government a necessary evil. It is then incumbent upon a Christian man to never latch his hopes on politicians. Our hope should only be on the one who can truly make all things new. It is so stupid of us when we become messianic about political parties. It is absurd and laughable when we hail a president or a governor when in fact they are mere chess pieces in the timeline of providence.

Secondly, if we will look into the Scriptural mandate of every Christian, we will realize that regardless of the kind of government we are subject into, the non-debatable aspects are always honor and prayers. We are called to honor and pray for the government and its officials. If our words tear more than build, then we are tearing the nations all the more. Paul did not write Romans 13 in a perfect Christian-conducive environment. The persecution of the church went pedal to the metal pre-Christendom. Yet, the knowledge of providence, the understanding of redemptive history, and the fruit of the Spirit enabled Christians to honor and pray for secular governments that have run amok with their sword wielding.

So, does Romans 13 mean conformity to evil? Is there a boundary to submission? Let’s answer that by looking into some stories. First, remember that there would be no Moses if his mother obeyed an edict to kill all the baby boys in their land. The Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar ordered all his subjects to bow before the golden image of his god. At the sound of the trumpets, everyone bowed, yet three God-fearing folks remained defiant. When Peter and John were asked to stop preaching Christ, they can only laugh at the command. These stories tell us that the demand for subjection is relative, not absolute. If the demands of the governing authorities require us to disobey God, then we will choose to disobey the authorities. We will always honor God above the state.

Lastly, I mentioned that the government is the institution ordained by God to curb the external manifestation of the inner fangs. The job of the government is merely external. The internal fangs can only be remedied and unarmed by the gospel. Thus, our ultimate mandate is to honor God and make disciples. As we preach the gospel, make disciples, raise and send leaders, we will see growing concentric circles of transformation in the nations of the world.

Distinctions & Divisions

These are trying times. The racial and political divides are deep and the damage has been catastrophic. With the widespread obliteration of facts and propagation of lies, we will not see an ease to the problems of racial tensions any time soon. In fact, in a plainly political sense, the repair will be a Herculean task. It will be laughable for any Christian to think that politicizing the church will be the solution to social issues like racism.

There exists no Houdini way to solve an issue deeply seated in our souls. This racial iron curtain that exists in the human soul can only be torn by the power of the gospel. Only the gospel can cure. Therefore, should we think of weaponizing the church, our artilleries are evangelism and discipleship because like what I pointed out, only the gospel can solve social issues springing forth from sinful hearts.

It doesn’t mean though that the church should not speak up and speak against. By no means should the church relinquish its prophetic voice. But the church needs to preach, and not just speak. We need to preach against the underlying evil of any social issue more than just speaking about policies and reforms. Our voice should count, but our preaching should too.

God made distinctions. In His created order, we see in humans and nature that distinctions exist. It’s interesting to note that when it comes to humans, He first established the fact that we are all created in His own image. We are bearers of His image. Every man and woman of all ethnicity bears the image of God, and no one bears it more than the other. When He introduced what constituted His image in us, He laid down the distinctions—-it’s our maleness and femaleness. Interestingly, there was not a mention about any distinction in race. When God deals with people, He deals with us either individually or as a nation. The race Scripture recognizes is the Adamic race, and this is the very race He set out to redeem from the very beginning.

Racial distinction is a social construct, it is not a Scriptural proposition. Racism and its brood is a result of our depravity. Our penchant for the externals and our warped judgment of what beauty is, are evidences of our fallenness. Even in our nation, our regard for white or glass skin, and disdain for the opposite show our real position.

It’s true, black lives matter. Let’s preach against the veiled evil behind racism. We ought to put in high regard people of all ethnicities in every nation. It’s a complex world we live in because it is muddied by sin. Our hope is only the gospel of Christ. As we preach the gospel and make disciples, we are slowly inching our way towards our hope of true Christendom, where Biblical worldviews are shared by all sectors of the society and where the image of God in every person is valued regardless of the color of their skin.

Lament & Injustice

It is strange that lament is all over Scripture, yet it is perhaps an arena less frequented by Christians.

I have realized that lament and its practice, as a subject, is far reaching in its scope, relevance, and application. In this particular blog, I’ll look at lament and its connection to injustice.

Needless to say, almost daily, we hear of news of injustice here and abroad that angers us. Knowledgeable of what justice is, we are swift to be on the front lines, calling out perpetrators. While the swift action is good, sometimes the practice poses a problem because we tend to find ourselves in an angry disposition and worse, we stall in that emotion. While righteous anger is a good impetus, oftentimes, we end up frothing in our mouth with curses on Social Media. There is something lacking in our approach, and that is lament.

To begin with, we need to understand a sharp distinction: To cry is human, but to lament is Christian. To lament is not to simply cry because lamenting is prayerful weeping. It is the type of prayers David uttered to God, which sometimes sounded like borderline accusatory. To lament is to ask about His nearness and to appeal for His mercy. Lament is deep sorrow expressed in groans and pains.

Lament should be the precursor to any acts of mercy or compassion. It should be precursor to the confrontation of injustice. Any extension of compassionate ministry begins with lament. Any confrontation to any forms of injustice begins with lament. We do not move forward without lamenting first. In this case, lament could be a reflective silence and inner sorrow and compassion.

Lament allows us to search deeper. Lament is a safe place to bring our complaints to God. It allows us to unzip our deepest anguish, sorrows and even anger. Tearful lamentations ask the question, “why?

Why do we say that it is a good precursor?

It is because lament leads to trust. A prayerful lamentation has a destination. It ends up in trust and hope. Lament amplifies the sovereignty of God. It allows us to make a conclusion about our fallenness and realize the beauty of the work of redemption. It allows to see the fragility of life and the steadfastness of God. Lament solidifies our hope in Christ.

No matter the contrast and the conflict, lament brings us to the heart of God. In the context of injustice, journeying in lament allows us to understand that as much as you grieve, God does too. Remember the shortest verse in the Bible is a lament.

It is my prayer that all Christian acts of mercy and compassion will be driven by souls that have come from lamentation. It’s just different when we come from the table of His presence and have partaken of His grace.

Providence & Suffering

The play of infinite wisdom in providence is settling for a regenerate mind. That is how it’s supposed to be understood. I seriously think that there can never be a deep, unrakable, unsievable (I invented the last two words) love for God apart from this knowledge. While to some that statement is highly debatable, I risk being called out by making that conclusion.

I think good theology is one that is bedrock-rooted, one that can’t be blown off by the winds of doubts, fear, and suffering. Its effect? When the prevailing smoke of emotionalism and sentimentalism in the contemporary church settles, we will remain committed to the Lord.

A few nights ago, my wife and I were discussing a difficult portion of John. The next night, we were on our chairs, audience to some pastors involved in a good discourse. In both instances, the subject at hand was suffering.

Suffering is a universal reality that encompasses nations and generations. To the Christian man, like what I have mentioned, the play of infinite wisdom in providence is supposed to be settling for him who has a regenerate mind.

The concept of suffering can never be understood, lest married to the idea of divine providence. To think about providence is not a lazy escape from any discourse concerning suffering. It is just that all roads of discussion will always lead to Providence Avenue. The pulpit then must always seek to introduce the congregation to the reality of suffering and our participation in it, whether consequential or providential.

Now to the unbelieving man, these are difficult pills to swallow. People are always quick to put God on trial when their comfort and convenience are taken from them. Truth of the matter is, God is not answerable to man. The burden of explaining these things rest on the Christian man. God of course, in his grace, will help us extend the knowledge of His sovereignty and providence in the face of suffering to the curious and hurting unbeliever.

Here’s where we can start off with as we talk to people about suffering: The Bible can relate to the sufferer, as it is filled with stories of people who have suffered. There is an overtone of this in the pages of the Bible. What does that tell us? Remember suffering is a universal reality experienced by people of all generations. That tells us that the Bible will never lose its relevance in whatever culture and time. On top of that, the historical Jesus was a sufferer. The man revered by Christians is not foreign to suffering. And lastly, there is an end to suffering and it is a glorious one. The narrative is captivating to any person who is willing to listen.

As we evangelize and disciple people, may we be ambassadors of this eternal truth—-God will turn our suffering for our good and for His glory.

Poetry & Theology

What makes a good worship song?

I think a good song is one that takes a person to a pilgrimage of theological contemplation. Since singing is an artistic expression, it helps when we merge poetry with theology. By doing so, we allow listeners to embark on a discovery—-one that marvels at the diverse excellencies of God. I love it when songwriters fuse theology and poetry. It’s a potent combination because it goes beyond just a mere dance of sentimentalism. Poetry thrusts theology in our spirit and it keeps it there.

And because a song sung to God is supposed to be a disclosure of his character, its coherence in its lyrical theology must be in place. One that takes primacy of course, is its Christological anchor. Without it, a song does not convey the message of redemption.

Needless to say, congregational worship is important because it is a vessel for corporate confession. The fault sometimes is, in our desire to make songs singable, we make it too simplistic. By doing so, we sacrifice sanctification and consecration for edification. While there is of course, absolutely nothing wrong with the latter, it is supposedly a mere product of the former. We don’t pursue upliftment for it is very anthropocentric in approach. Rather we allow it to happen when we pursue theocentricity in the things that we do, as we actively pursue sanctification.

I guess we must not cut corners when it comes to song writing. Substance weighs more than style and substance can always go with style. Simplistic does not mean short because even a short song can be a packed fuselage that will thrust the listener to worship.

There. You have just read something about songs and singing from a non-singer. What to make of it is up to you.

Parade of Sorrows

Today’s swollen eyes are from yesterday’s tears.
The morning after, the problem’s still near.
It’s impossible to tear yourself from fear.

You pulled tomorrow’s clouds over today’s sunshine.
And hope it pours hard
that you may proceed to cry in secret.
Tears masquerading as rain drops.
Wailing cloaked in thunder.

As you conceal today’s pain, tomorrow yet again, you’re hobbled by a deeper grief and a louder cry.

In this endless parade of sorrows,
you look to the heavens and cry for help.
Your prayers ascend to the holy sanctuary.
And grace is imparted to your fainting heart.

Silent Construction

Despite all of today’s advancements, no modern construction site is void of noise. Constructions, no matter how small, are always busy and noisy. Now, imagine a primitive one—-one that didn’t utilize any of the machines we have today. Hearing a chorus of men chipping off large rocks sure would have been crazy to the ears.

Contrast that picture to how the temple was built as chronicled in 1 Kings 6:7: When the house was built, it was with stone prepared at the quarry, so that neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron was heard in the house while it was being built.

Can you imagine such structure built with incredible silence? Can you imagine a structure rising up without hearing a single hammering? Well, it was unbelievably built that way.

Why? we ask. It points us back to the understanding of what who the structure is for. It was set apart, distinct & different because it was built with the back drop and blue print of the transcendence and holiness of the one who would dwell in it.

You see, all of life’s practices would shift, change, and reorient, according to our understanding of God’s holiness. Do not belittle the knowledge of holiness for by it, reverence is birthed.

God of the Exodus

God of the exodus
Lord of Hosts, King of Glory
You gather to yourself an assembly
And count me as one who’s worthy

Your power can split the ocean
Your power can still the sun
Everlasting, let your will be done

God of the exodus
God of my exodus
You have ushered me into newness of life

O God of the exodus
In your power you have saved me
In your love you have hidden me
With your blood you have redeemed me
Your Word washes me

In this great assembly
I will bless the Lord