“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17
Sensed the burden to release this as an urgent reminder – a word and a warning – from the Lord. The days ahead will not necessarily be easy days for the people of God. It will require faith, genuine faith, to endure every challenge for the sake of Jesus. [Read 1 Peter 4:12-16 for context.]
The challenges we face are God’s instrument of judgment (not wrath); a test of sorts. Will we continue to walk in His ways? Or will we compromise? Note that this judgment will begin with God’s people. First. This judgment is not of condemnation, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Rather, it is one of separation; a sifting. This testing by fire reveals the genuineness of faith, that which counts at the revelation of Jesus, resulting in final salvation (1 Peter 1:6-8). Through this, the Lord will know those who are truly His.
This explains why Peter warned that “the righteous one is scarcely saved” (NIV: it is hard for the righteous to be saved; NASB: it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved). No place for presumption here. If this is so, can you imagine how it will be for the ungodly and sinner (1 Peter 4:18)? If you think judgment is tough for believers, you don’t want to be in the place of those “who do not obey the gospel of God.”
I believe this is a word of grace for every believer to check his or her own walk. We who have the gospel of God must live according to the ways of God. The Lord’s greatest indictments against Israel were idolatry and disobedience. God’s standards have not changed because our God is an unchanging God.
Every believer must honestly evaluate: Have I been idolatrous? Have I been disobedient? Have I worshipped and revered the Lord as He is to be honoured and feared? Have I obeyed the Lord, His ways, His will? The house of God – the ekklesia of Jesus Christ – must set the house in order.
At the revelation of Jesus my King, may the faith I profess in Him be found to be genuine faith.
One year ago, I decided to journey through the book of Psalms. One psalm a day. Over 150 days.
I can’t say it was an instruction from the Lord. Or a kingdom assignment (in Archippus Awakening lingo). It was just a very strong prompting to read and reflect. And then to post and share my thoughts and ramblings.
As with all things, starting was easy. Continuing was not quite as straightforward. This came as a surprise. After all, how difficult can it be to read one psalm a day, right? Which just goes to show that conviction alone is not enough. It must also be coupled with commitment and consistency.
By the Lord’s grace and enablement, I completed the task in just a little over 150 days. If I remember correctly, I missed a couple of days because of ministry engagements. Needless to say, I was richly blessed, provoked at times, but learnt so much.
A Psalm A Day has since been compiled into an e-book (PDF format). To celebrate one year of this project, I would like to share this resource with you.
If you’d like to go through your own A Psalm A Day exercise, drop me an email at email@example.com with the subject title “I want A Psalm A Day” and a short note as to why you’d like to do this – this will help you with your own commitment and consistency. I will then send you the e-book via return email (please ensure you check your spam/junk folder, just in case). Please acknowledge when you get it – thanks.
There is no charge for this e-book. All I ask is that you will value this free resource and do your part to walk through the psalms over the next 150 days. You are welcome to check-in with me at any point of your journey. Feel free to share in the comments below too. I am sure your reflections will cheer others on in their own A Psalm A Day journeys.
Most of all, I’d really appreciate a note from you after you complete this exercise. I’d love to hear of how the Lord has spoken to you or directed you through A Psalm A Day. That would greatly encourage me.
Almost out of the blue, as if an overnight occurrence, the most talked about topic is that of mental wellness.
The sad irony is that, just a while before this, the tone was a lot more accusatory and damning with many wondering why the younger generation is a lot less resilient and a lot more ‘strawberry’. Today, the narrative has been flipped on its head. If anyone as much as dare suggest that someone doesn’t have that mental mettle, he or she is promptly taken to task.
Here’s the scary thing. It’s not just a local problem. It’s a global one. Here’s a scarier fact. It’s not just experienced by non-believers. It’s also experienced by Christians. And judging from the sudden surge of articles, sermons and seminars in Christian circles, the percentage is not low.
Since I am no mental wellness expert, I will not attempt to write anything that may be misconstrued or challenged. All I offer is a simple word picture that popped into my mind as I pondered the place of wrestling and that of rest in the midst of challenges. The Lord opened my eyes to see ‘rest’ embedded in ‘wrestle’. Wow.
It’s all too easy to think that it is one and not the other. Clearly, we have swung to one extreme. But in trying to correct it, we must be careful not to swing to the other extreme. The key really is in knowing how to wrestle well and still be rested in that endeavour.
In Archippus Awakening – where I challenge many to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments – the phrase that is used is ‘knowing how to work from a posture of rest.’ Yes, perseverance and endurance are required that we may fulfil our assignments. Yet, rest and restedness are very much a part of the process; without which, we will break down, give in and give up.
There have been many times where, in striving to give my best to the Lord, I have succumbed to stress, negative anxiety and even experienced extremely low periods of depression. Understandably, the work, demands and pressure may have been very heavy but the real issue is that I have taken myself out of His rest.
Kingdom goals, however well-intentioned, had become my own agenda. My reliance, regardless of how well I spewed Christian cliches, had been more on my own strengths and abilities than it should have been upon the Lord and His empowerment. My pressing on (more Christian-talk) was really more about preserving my pride than it was about persevering in humility. No wonder I was stressed and anxious. I was not rested at all. (I often quip that ‘stress’ is simply messed-up ‘ressst’.) I readily declare that it is all about Jesus; when in reality, it became all about me. Remembering the rest that I have in Him has helped me bounce back to continue to wrestle. And to wrestle well.
We have much to learn from Jesus, our King. He worked very hard but was always at rest. He knew when to engage and when to dis-engage. If anyone had to live up to expectations, Jesus did as Messiah and the Saviour of the world. #nopressure
Was Jesus ever mentally and emotionally stretched, anxious, stressed or perplexed? I believe so. Mark 14:33 records that our Lord was “troubled and deeply distressed” in the Garden of Gethsemane. To the point that it manifested physically through His sweating drops of blood, a condition known as hematidrosis (Luke 22:44).
Yet, through it all, because Jesus knew His assignment, He never once gave up. That He may fulfil what the Father sent Him to do, the only thing He gave up was His own will in submission to His Father’s will.
Jesus wrestled. Big time. Yet, in and through that wrestling, there was rest. It didn’t feel ok but He knew it would be ok. I believe this promise is available to us too – if we would learn how to appropriate it in Christ.
Today, more than ever, there is a battle for our minds. The pace of this digital world and the influences of social media are not helping one bit. What we set our minds on matter. A lot! If we do not renew our minds and be transformed, we will conveniently conform to the default pattern of the world (Rom 12:2). If we do not hold every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we will be held captive by the arguments and philosophies of this world (2 Cor 10:3-6). If we set our minds on the things of the flesh, it will lead to death. But if we would set our minds on the things of the Spirit, the promise is life and peace (Rom 8:5-6).
It is really encouraging that there is increased awareness of mental wellness today and more attention is being directed to help those who are struggling and suffering. In this area, I have lots more to learn and catch up on.
If you are wrestling with any issue, don’t let it escalate or wait until it’s too late. My prayer for you is that you will discover the rest that is found only in Jesus Christ. That said, being a Christian doesn’t mean that you will no longer wrestle with the challenges and issues of this life or your own faith. Trust me – I am still wrestling with God on so many fronts. The assurance is that if our focus is always on Him and His promises, it’s ok to keep wrestling. Because in and through that wrestling, there is the promise of rest.
Turning 21 is a milestone. In many cultures, it marks the transition from childhood to adulthood.
In our family, our first-born turned 21 in 2019. A month and a half ago, it was his sister’s turn. Serene and I still find it a little odd but officially, they are both adults now. Our babies have grown up, come of age. Even so, at any age, they will always be our children.
This was the impression that came to mind – a coming of age – as I considered the significant date of 8 July. Each year, I will take time to reflect, remembering the day I heard the Lord’s invitation to follow Him at a much deeper level. This year, it would have been 21 years since I first said yes to Him in 2000.
What a journey it has been and continues to be. I have experienced God’s love, grace and faithfulness every step of the way. If you have not started following Jesus (and I mean, really follow Him), don’t waste another moment. Make this day the day you decide to follow Him and we can celebrate this anniversary together.
Here are my past reflections if you’d like to know the details:
I can’t really explain this impression of ‘a coming of age’. Truth is, I don’t even know how to express it adequately. Notwithstanding, I will try my best because I want to have a reminder of this.
Back in my days, we didn’t have the concept of adulting nor the complications and complexities attached to it. We just reached a legal age of responsibility and were expected to conduct ourselves accordingly.
As I entered adulthood back then, as I came of age, I enjoyed a new level of freedom. I could come and go as I pleased. I decided for myself without having to explain or justify. It was a nice feeling. That said, I quickly learned that I would be responsible and accountable for all my decisions – both the right ones as well as the wrong ones. Not quite as fun. In fact, very serious and rather overwhelming. Yet, that was how I grew and matured. Experience is a great teacher.
In the same way, after 21 year of following Jesus, it is as if a new level of freedom has been unlocked for me. This is not to say that I was not free in Christ before this, for those whom the Son has set free is free indeed (cf John 8:36)! In Christ, I always had the freedom but perhaps I never knew how to enjoy that freedom to its fullest.
As I ‘turn’ 21, I am hearing the Father give me permission to enjoy this new level of freedom as I embrace new responsibilities ahead. To be sure, this coming of age is not so much about arriving than it is about arising.
As children, we would ask for our parents’ permission before being allowed to do anything. As adults, we no longer have to do that. With experience and wisdom (and a lot of hindsight), we are free to choose and decide.
It is with this freedom that I believe the Lord is challenging me to move forward with greater boldness and confidence.
With all I have learned in the past 21 years, led and guided by the Spirit, He is saying to me, “I trust you. Go ahead. You know your kingdom assignment. Do what you need to do. You don’t have to keep looking over your shoulder, wondering or worrying about what I will say.”
At the same time, the Lord reminds and encourages, “You may have come of age, but remember that you are and will always be My son. As an adult, it may feel scary and uncertain at times, as if you are out there on your own. But you are not alone, My son, I will always be with you.”
On this note, I am reminded of how my father trusted me enough to let me to run the advertising agency he founded and painstakingly built up. He gave me the freedom to do what needed to be done. Yet, freedom didn’t mean ‘anything goes’. On a regular basis, we met – for me to give account, to seek advice; for him to give input, to provide counsel. I may have appeared to be out there alone, but I was never left to struggle on my own. Mistakes, I made quite a few. But he continued to give me the freedom to learn and grow from those mistakes.
Please don’t read this as there is no longer a need for me to read the Bible or pray or seek the Lord for His will and direction. That would be a totally wrong takeaway. This is why I mentioned upfront that I don’t quite know how to express this ‘coming of age’ impression. I certainly do not wish to confuse or stumble anyone. Let me state it a little more clearly: There is a certain level of freedom that comes with maturity and yet the adult remains a son that desires to please the Father and fulfil His will. Makes better sense? I hope so.
21 years of following Jesus. And as the Son went about His Father’s business, I too am learning what it means to partner Him in the same business. In the purposes of the kingdom of God. With the same liberty and joy in the Spirit. With the same favour and authority as His son.
A coming of age. With this fresh understanding of freedom, I am looking forward to learning so much more in the days ahead.
I have no idea how that will be or what it would look like. For now, I will just celebrate turning 21.
Especially in times of crisis, conspiracy theories abound. These are not new – they have always been around – but in uncertain times, the more certain these theories sound, somehow providing answers to why things are the way they are.
The most recent is that of QAnon, started by an anonymous post by ‘Q’ and has since taken on a life of its own. Of greater concern is how QAnon has attracted a very large Christian following, both in the USA and around the world. The narrative of good vs evil fits right into our kingdom psyche. So as people of righteousness, we must do our part to fight back and to warn others. Sounds right. But is it?
In the past weeks, more has been written about this movement. But hold on! Can we trust what is published in the mainstream media? More pastors have stepped up to warn their congregations about the dangers of QAnon. Oh wait. Maybe these pastors are part of the conspiracy, wolves in sheep’s clothing?! After all, anyone who speaks against QAnon speaks against Trump and hence cannot be trusted. In fact, anyone who votes against Trump contributes to the end of the Church. Really?
Chances are you have received one of such warnings or heard a few of such teachings from well meaning Christians. How are you processing these? Did you spam, er … share, these with your friends and pastors too?
I must confess that it is very enticing and tempting to feed on the QAnon offerings. It is like receiving some higher level information which normal people are not privy too. It makes one feel smarter, in the inner circle, and more spiritual. But is this how it is supposed to be? Is this what discernment looks like? Or is it quite the opposite?
Led by the Lord to read through Psalms and to post a verse each day with my own thoughts and reflections (#apsalmaday), today’s gleanings from Psalm 2 provide perspective as to how we should respond.
Reading this verse, I can’t help but think of the many conspiracy theories circulating these days. A new world order. A global government. A ruling elite. Population control. DNA-altering vaccine. Big Brother system. Whatever or however, these all go against the Lord and His Anointed.
Here’s the good news. God is not surprised or perturbed at all. In fact, He will have the last laugh (2:4). His Son, His Anointed, His Messiah – Jesus – will come to judge and to rule His kingdom in righteousness. How cool.
Don’t miss the hint in the final verses – be wise, be instructed.
No need to fear hidden agendas. Look instead to God’s plan that has been clearly made known to us.
No need to spread conspiracy theories or add to the rumours. Proclaim instead the gospel of the kingdom. Invite and remind all to “Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling.” 2:11
And remember: “Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” 2:12 (not in conspiracy theories or whoever the next president is).
9 September 2020 #apsalmaday
This may or may not be satisfactory to you. But as for me, it brought me comfort and helped me focus.
To be sure, where conspiracy theories are concerned, there are way more questions than there are answers. Depending on which way you go, it will lead to confusion, distraction and fear on one end, or a radical almost maniacal vigilante Christian resistance movement on the other. I believe that either extreme is not what the Lord expects of matured believers.
Whilst we may not be entirely clear of how things will pan out, or what is actually true or false, I hope we can at least agree on the following:
Yes, the world is in a mess in need of salvation. No, we don’t need more conspiracy theories to confirm that. Yes, the Church needs to wake up and fulfil her assignment. No, the Church is not ending anytime soon, nor can her existence be determined by the outcome of an election. Yes, we must be aware of deception in the final days. No, we should not add to the deception by spreading more lies and rumours we cannot verify. Yes, the days ahead may get more challenging for followers of the Christ. No, we are not surprised because these have been foretold and we have been forewarned.
There are still many more assignments to be fulfilled. The Church must not be distracted. There are enough fakes around. Let’s not add to that by being flakes.
We are people of Truth. Know the Truth. Live out of that Truth. Proclaim the Truth. Not theories.
It doesn’t happen all the time. But this morning, it did.
I opened my Bible and the first verse my eyes fell on caught my attention, spoke to me:
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.
1 Thessalonians 2:1
Paul’s words echoed a deep desire in my heart – that my kingdom work will never, ever, be in vain. Like Paul, I want to be able to say this with confidence. I uttered a quick prayer under my breath. “Lord, may there always be fruit, even if I may not know it or see it.”
To encourage me, the Lord answered almost immediately – through an article in the Tung Ling Bible School Newsletter that just arrived in the mail.
It was an Open Letter to TLBS from a recent graduate who signed off simply as “Archippus W.” In case you are wondering … no, there was no student named Archippus in that cohort. Which makes this even more meaningful for me. From the module that I teach at TLBS, “Knowing & Fulfilling Kingdom Assignments”, the name and significance of the “almost anonymous” Archippus made a difference in this person’s journey.
I know that this may not mean anything to anyone. And that’s ok. This one’s specially for me. Courtesy of my King.
I know that all I need to do is my part and then leave the rest to God. But I wonder often if what I do or say is getting through at all. I know that I am not to be too results-oriented or performance-driven. I know, I know. Yet, who wants his or her work to be done in vain?
Paul was never ashamed of using these two words “in vain” and I guess we should not be apologetic either. After all, Scriptures clearly exhorts us towards fruitfulness. And Jesus says that we are to be known by our fruit.
There’s only one little problem. Sometimes, I may never know or see the fruit of my labour.
This is why I am so thankful for the Lord’s gracious encouragement this morning. Just one small article with a little sign-off of an obscure, little known name – Archippus. It is as if my King was whispering to me, “Keep doing what you are doing. It is not in vain.” Thank you, Jesus.
Dear Archippus – whoever you are – thank you for penning this open letter, sharing your journey to encourage so many others. That one phrase“to be like the almost anonymous Archippus in Colossians 4:17” and your identification with this biblical character have given me new strength to continue to proclaim the message of Archippus Awakening, knowing that it has not been and will not be in vain.
I reached Deuteronomy 15 in my bible reading this morning. Once more, Deuteronomy 15:12-18 spoke to me. How timely, as I reflect and rejoice about 20 years of Following Jesus. We may think that this passage about bondservants is no longer relevant for New Testament Christians. However, we must be note that it was Paul’s preferred term whenever he introduced himself.
“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,…” Romans 1:1
“Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ,…” Titus 1:1
In celebration of the honour and privilege of following and serving Jesus, allow me to share an extract from Say To Archippus, from Chapter Six: The Kingdom Keeps Advancing, pp74-77.
Awl for Jesus
When writing to the churches, Paul would introduce himself as a doulos first, before using the term, apostolos (apostle). Although different English translations have rendered the Greek word doulos as servant, slave or bondservant, it is clear that Paul considered himself as belonging to Jesus.
As a servant or slave of Jesus, he is firstly one who serves the Master before he is one who is sent by Him (an apostle literally means one who is sent). Unlike the other English versions, the translators of the NKJV and the NASB opted to render doulos as bondservant instead of servant or slave.
Appreciating the difference between the terms makes for an interesting observation as well as application.
Servitude and slavery may have been common and accepted in Bible times, but given the fallenness of humanity, there would have been the possibility of unjust and inhumane treatment of those in such categories and situations.
To address that, God, through the Mosaic Law (Exodus 21:1-6), made a provision for servants to be set free after serving six years, without having to pay anything. This was so that they could have a chance to start over.
“Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing. If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master has given him a wife, and she has borne him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself. But if the servant plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.”
Although freedom is due to him in the seventh year, the servant still has an option available for him to exercise. If he had been well taken care of and well treated by his master (or ex-master, more accurately), he could choose to forego his freedom and voluntarily serve this master.
Forego his freedom? Yes! His master had provided adequately for him and his family and even protected them from any eventuality. He has benefitted from the master’s fair dealings as well as his wise and prudent decisions and direction. He trusts and loves his master.
Freedom notwithstanding, there is absolutely no reason why he would want to risk facing the challenges and uncertainties of the world on his own. It is far better to stay and to continue to serve this good and loving master! His relationship with his master is worth far more than his own freedom!
By saying, “I love my master…I will not go out free,” he voluntarily and willingly offers himself back to the master. When the master pierces his ear with an awl, this freed servant becomes a bondservant who will serve the master, not just for another six years, but for life!
This is a beautiful picture of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! Like the servant, we too have been set free from slavery without having to pay anything. Instead, we have received every blessing in Christ and every promise is a ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ for us to start anew!
And yet, the freedom we have accounts for nothing if we don’t have Christ, the best Master there is. With freedom, we could serve ourselves and do whatever we wished but how could that even be compared with the protection, the provision and the purposes of the Master?
Truly, nothing compares to being in the centre of the Master’s will and plans. The best thing to do is to offer ourselves back to the Master, voluntarily and willingly, and to be His bondservant for life.
Being slaves of God and servants of Jesus is not to be taken as drudgery or a chore. It is true that we have been bought with a price and are no longer our own but a relationship with Jesus is never akin to forced labour or life imprisonment.
Not at all! Otherwise, it is no longer a relationship of love, for love cannot be forced upon a person nor can a person be coerced to love.
Jesus has every right to enforce His ownership over us but that is simply not in His nature or character. He loves us and thus saves and sets us free from the tyranny of sin. And so, we are His and in this, there is no choice. But we do get to choose how we respond to His love. We could just say ‘thank you very much’ and go about our own devices, or respond in love to stay and serve Him.
If you ask me, it’s really quite straightforward. If I could have made it on my own, He didn’t have to come and save me in the first place. The truth is, I am and have nothing in and of myself. The moment I walk away from Jesus, I walk right back to where and what I was saved from! For sure, sin is a terrible master and I am a lousy master of my own destiny.
There is only one Master who is worthy of love, praise and service: JESUS!
It is when we come to a revelation of this that we, like Paul and the apostles, readily choose to be bondservants, or love slaves, of Jesus.
Just like that. 20 years. At times, I still find it hard to believe. So much has happened. And yet, there is so much more to learn and experience.
In case you are wondering what this is about, on the morning of 8 July 2000, in my time of devotion, I heard the Lord invite me to follow Him wholeheartedly. No, it was not an audible voice but it came through loud and clear in my spirit.
Each year, I would take time to reflect and review so that I can remember and never forget that moment. This morning, I did the same. And since it is quite a milestone – 20 years! – I made a special effort to take out my old journal as well as the 40 Day booklet that the Lord spoke through.
Whilst I remember the passage more clearly (Mark 1:16-20), it was the commentary that caught my eye this year. Looking at my scribbles and notes, I realised once more how powerfully the words gripped me, causing me to respond the way I did:
Jesus’ mission takes precedence over the family business, and the family itself. In fact, over everything!
8 July 2000, 40 Day Fast
That morning, I resolved in my heart that nothing would stand in the way of loving and serving Jesus. Not the family business. Not the family (it was just Serene and two children then). In the same way that Jesus asked the young Galilean fishermen to follow Him, the invitation was extended to me too. And as immediately as the disciples responded, I too wanted to drop everything there and then.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, looking back, I stand amazed at how the Lord has led me, and still leading me. To say that it’s been quite an adventure would be a gross understatement. Reading my journal entries, I can’t help but smile at a much younger and less matured me, fumbling and struggling to make sense of my feelings and challenges as I sought to follow Jesus the best I knew how then.
This is not to say that I have got it all figured out 20 years later. Interestingly, the challenges are all still there, just in different forms and dimensions. I’d like to think that I have learned to navigate these a little better and with more wisdom.
To celebrate and mark this little milestone, I will host a Zoom meeting tonight (8 July 2020, Wednesday, 8pm) to share my journey of following Jesus over these 20 years. No preaching or teaching (if I can help it – haha!), just a casual chit chat, one disciple to another. I will try to answer questions with the hope of encouraging even more to follow Jesus. Join me if you. Sign up for Zoom link: TinyURL.com/followjesuswithhenson
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,”
Judging from the number of articles across as many websites and platforms, it seems that Kanye West is quite well known.
Forgive me. Although the name does ring a bell, I have no idea who Kanye is. I only just discovered that his wife is Kim Kardashian. And I was promptly informed by my teenager when I pronounced his name wrongly (Kanye believe it?). Well, in case you are still in the dark (where have you been?), Mr West recently encountered Jesus and has been making waves all over.
But, no, this is not a post about Kanye West; whether his conversion is real or not. (For an objective commentary and response, I’d recommend Bill Muehlenberg‘s article: Kanye and Christ.) Instead, this post is about how normal Christians like us should respond when superstars and celebrities like Kanye confess and profess faith in Jesus Christ.
Rejoice For starters, we rejoice when anyone – yes, anyone – repents and believes in the good news of Jesus Christ and His kingdom. However improbable it may seem to you, nothing is impossible for God. That said, salvation is just the beginning; next comes the walk of faith and of sanctification. To this end, I appreciate Pastor Greg Laurie’s open letter to Kanye as a new believer.
Numbers Mean Something but Not Everything It is heartening to note the massive spike in faith-based Google searches after Kanye’s “Jesus Is King” album launch. It was also reported that more than 1,000 people gave their lives to Jesus when Kanye gave an impromptu altar call at his concert in Louisiana. In terms of exposure and numbers, this is indeed impressive! I pray that these knew the difference between gettin’ up to the stage at a typical Kanye West concert and givin’ up their lives to Jesus at this Kanye West concert. On this note and at this point, it is not easy to tell if one has truly chosen to follow Jesus or is simply following a popular figure. Only time will reveal how many will stay on the straight and narrow way as disciples of Jesus Christ.
I make this comment in light of what we have observed from church history. When Emperor Constantine legalised Christianity in 313AD, it was seen as a step forward for the persecuted church. Thousands, millions, became Christians – or at least they considered themselves as such. Today, we understand that filled churches may look good; but in reality, Christendom or Churchdom is not the same as kingdom. Numbers mean something but not everything.
As much as we are thankful for Kanye’s reach and influence, our hope is not in some prominent person but in Jesus: He is still the only One who saves.
Revival Is Not Dependent on the Rich and Famous I think it’s great that Kanye is using his mega platform to declare “Jesus is King”. However, we should not for a moment think that God needs big name influencers to reach the masses. Don’t get me wrong. Can God use superstars to bring about His purposes? Of course, He can. But does He need superstars to do that? Not at all. Revival is not dependent on the rich and famous; or the attractive and influential. In fact, God’s preferred agents and vehicles have more often been the weak, the foolish and the poor (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).
Jesus Is the Only Name That Deserves Worship Reading the various reports about Kanye West, I can’t help but remember the Lord’s prompting when He first gave me the assignment of Archippus Awakening in October 2013. I later recorded this conviction in my first book, Say To Archippus:
“I believe the days of spiritual celebrities and superstars are over. And in these last days, God will raise up the common man and woman to do great and extraordinary things in and through them. These are the Archippuses of our day who will know their assignments and be obedient to fulfil them!”
Since then, painfully, we have seen so many big names – pastors, leaders, worship leaders, influencers – stumble and fall. Allow me to clarify: God is not against spiritual celebrities and superstars. God is, however, against His people making too big a deal of anyone. Somehow, we have this perpetual propensity to put people on pedestals. Can’t we see that this does no one any good? – neither the ones who are worshipped nor the ones who worship the ones who are worshipped! (By the way, the other extreme of tearing and putting people down is not right either.)
Responding to a recent spate of certain known Christian figures leaving and questioning the faith, John L. Cooper, the lead singer of Skillet, said:
My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or “relevant” people the most influential people in Christendom.
Well said, John. The truth is: Big name, small name or no name, Jesus is the only Name that deserves worship. You can be inspired or encouraged by Kanye, but it must still only be Jesus you worship.
Kanye Is Simply Kanye If we are not careful, we will begin to accord Kanye special status, conferring upon him all kinds of spiritual titles. Even worse, we buy into the lie that only celebs like Kanye are able to reach the world for Jesus. Or we use it as a convenient excuse why we cannot do anything because we are not as talented or resourceful. We forget that to God, Kanye is simply Kanye, no different from anyone of us, a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
And Say to Kanye… I believe what God said to Archippus through Paul, He would say the same to Kanye, and also to each of us:
And say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfil it.”
Whether known or unknown, we each have kingdom assignments to fulfil. You may or may not agree with what Kanye is doing or how he is doing it, but at least he is doing something. Granted that he is very talented and his Area of Operation is huge. But then again, to whom much is given, much is also expected (Luke 12:48). When Jesus comes, each believer will stand accountable before the King. Would it not be more productive to know and move on your kingdom assignment instead of commenting on Kanye’s or someone else’s?
Jesus Is King I hope you can see why this post is not about Kanye West. I am not endorsing him. I am not promoting the album. I am also not criticising him. I have only used the opportunity to share some principles and to bring some reminders that ultimately, it is about Jesus; and how we each are to respond knowing that Jesus is King.
Kanye West is not the first celebrity to come to Jesus and he most definitely will not be the last. His declaration that Jesus is King has resulted in thousands listening to this Truth and singing along. Even so, let it be clearly stated that it is one thing to sing along with a song and its lyrics; but it’s totally another to live out the truth that the song declares. (Yes, it’s the same with Hillsong favourites.)
When all is said and done, it is not how many times the song or album is downloaded, streamed, played or sung; or if it even tops the Billboard charts. Finally, what matters is how many of those who declare “Jesus is King” will truly live for Him as their King.
I would have missed marking this milestone if the host had not mentioned it as she introduced me last Saturday. Credit to her, she did a little research and discovered that it was on 8 July 2000 that I received the Lord’s call to full-time ministry. “In two more days, that would make it 19 years!” she remarked. (Thanks, Tiffany, for the reminder!)
I then went up and preached from Matthew 16:13-19 (for both Saturday and Sunday services). The message was entitled “Who Do You Say That I Am?”, drawn from my book, Alignment Check, about Peter’s revelation and confession of Jesus as the Christ.
As if written specially for me, the passage for today’s Love Singapore 40.Day Devotional is Matthew 16:15-17!
“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (emphasis mine)
I know that this may mean nothing to anyone, and that’s fine. Over the years, I have learnt that God speaks to each of us personally and intimately in ways that we understand. More than a few times, He has used these little divine ‘coincidences’ to encourage and affirm me.
These are His gentle whispers in my ear, telling me, “Keep going, Henson, you’re on the right track. I know it is not always easy, but you’re doing fine. Keep going.”
This is why I make it a point to reflect and write about the day He called me. As the years roll by, I cannot rely too much on my memory anymore. Thank God that He sends people (like Tiffany) to remind me, and that I have past posts to refer to:
Thank You, Jesus. You’re not just a saviour, redeemer, restorer, deliverer, coach, healer, counsellor, teacher or friend. You are the CHRIST, the Messiah, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Thank You for saving me and for inviting me to participate in the advancement of Your kingdom. May I always have a fresh revelation of who and all that You are. Please continue to enable and encourage me to keep keeping on for You! Amen.