Kanye Is Simply Kanye. Jesus Is King.

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!”

Say To Archippus, p26.

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.

John L. Cooper, Facebook Post

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.”

Colossians 4:17

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.

Blessed Christmas from the Lim Tribe!

Christmas 2015 Family PixAmidst the fun, festivities and feasting, it is easy to mark the birth of baby Jesus and yet miss the significance of the coming Messiah. When Matthew recorded the birth account of Jesus, it was not only about a Saviour who would “save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21), but it was also an introduction that the prophesied and long-awaited King has made His appearance in the person of Jesus. This may sound obvious but let us not presume that everyone readily receives the rule and reign of King Jesus.

Like Herod, we are threatened by the prospect of losing control of our lives, to give up our power and position, to truly live for Jesus. Like the religious leaders, we are happy as long as the boat is not rocked, that we can fulfil our religious obligations. Never mind that prophecy was being fulfilled right under their very noses! Their knowledge of Scriptures affirmed it and yet they promptly returned to status quo, back to ministry as usual. Bethlehem was so near and yet, their hearts remained so far. Rather odd, for these were God’s people, supposedly crying for the Messiah to come.

Contrast this with the magi, Gentiles who went the distance. Their exposure to Scriptures moved them to an expedition with a Star. Having served in the courts of various kings and kingdoms, they knew that the One to come would be the real deal! They looked forward to the first Christmas not because of the presents or the party, but the Person of Jesus Christ. I wonder if we might have lost that hunger and desire for the true worship and service of the King?

As we look back to Jesus’ first coming, how many are ready for His second coming? Make no mistake – King Jesus is coming again! And when He comes, will He find Herods in rebellion, religious types playing church, or wise men and women who live circumspectly amidst evil days, truly kingdom subjects who are faithful in their kingdom assignments and ready to give account to their King?

This Christmas, don’t waste time over Starbucks’ marketing controversies, or get unduly upset that the words ‘Seasons Greetings’ are being preferred over ‘Christmas’. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King, whatever the world says or however they try to remove Him. In my humble opinion, it is not whether Christ is mentioned in Christmas or not that matters. It is, however, of greater importance and significance that Christ be found ruling and reigning in your life.

Not a standard Christmas greeting, I must admit. Then again, the times we live in require an exhortation of a more serious tone. In the same way that birth pangs ushered in His first coming, the birth pangs that are being experienced around the world will also usher in the Messiah’s second appearance. As you enjoy the festivities of the season, our prayer is that Jesus the Christ be revealed afresh to you and your loved ones!

From our family to yours, have a blessed Christmas! Thank you for being a part of our journey through this wonderful year and into the next!

Henson & Serene
with David, Sarah, Aaron, Esther, Ruth, Deborah Hope & Anna Joy

 

The Ways of the Kingdom

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I was assigned this sermon title and I pondered how best to share the aspects of the Kingdom within one session. Surely, I wouldn’t do justice to a topic as broad as this. Then, the thoughts began popping into my mind and I began to be overwhelmed by the various aspects of the Kingdom – what the Kingdom is about, what it means to be in the Kingdom and what is required of one who is a subject of the Kingdom!

I tried my best to put the points down and to organise them in as best a way as I possibly could. I know this list is certainly not exhaustive and I may well have missed a few (quite a few) here and there. But my prayer is that it will provide a good start to someone desiring to delve more into Kingdom understanding and matters, and that it would encourage and provoke us to live more purposefully for the King of kings and His Kingdom!

RESCUE First and foremost, we must never forget how we got delivered from the power of darkness and into the Kingdom of God (Col 1:13). Jesus literally went into enemy territory on a rescue mission and saved us. We were enslaved by sin and on the road to hell! That’s what the word ‘gospel’ means. It’s a message of hope announcing the arrival of a better king and His kingdom. It’s a call to repent, to turn and to follow this king! “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 When we believe and accept this good news of Jesus Christ by faith, rebirth and regeneration by the Holy Spirit gains us entry into the Kingdom (John 3:5; Titus 3:5).

RULE Whilst Christians may readily accept Jesus as Saviour, not many acknowledge Him as King, Lord and Master. But He is! He paid a hefty price of redemption with His own blood and set us free from the power of sin. We belong to Him and are subjects of His Kingdom. We are under His rule and we do His bidding. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done!” Sadly, many recognise His rescue but not His rule, preferring to live by their own dictates and desires. “But why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?“ Luke 6:46 For these, the phrase, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” is truly questionable.

REALM Kingdom literally means the King’s domain or realm. The extent of that domain determines the greatness of that King and Kingdom. The Kingdom of God transcends the natural and includes the spiritual! Don’t miss this awesome truth! Before there was the natural, it was the spiritual and that’s where the real action is (Heb 11:3). When we operate in the spiritual, we operate in the super-natural. Hence, Paul’s constant reminder for us to live a life in the Spirit, to set our minds on things above and not on things on the earth (Col 3:2).

RESPONSIBILITY I love the terms, “child of God” and “friend of God”. But I mustn’t disregard those of “ambassador”, “soldier”, “steward” and “servant”. I represent the Kingdom of God and I have responsibilities. The Kingdom parables make this extremely clear (Matt 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27). “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing.” Matt 24:45-46

RIGHTEOUSNESS The Kingdom is about the rule of God and the establishment of His righteousness (Matt 6:33a). Search the Scriptures and you will find that righteousness is always mentioned alongside salvation. That said, Jesus clarifies that this is not merely an outward show of piety but a heart that beats for the righteousness of the Kingdom. Our message is not for people to do the right things and be righteous, but for all to receive righteousness from Jesus and then be enabled to live righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit. This life of righteousness in the Spirit is the narrow way that leads to life and peace! Matt 7:13-14; Rom 8:6; Gal 6:7-8

RELATIONSHIP & RECONCILIATION From the beginning, it was about relationship between God and Man, out of which God’s rule and reign would be established on earth. And when that was affected by sin, the focus moved to reconciliation that relationship might be restored. God demonstrated that through the constant wooing of His people, through the sending of Jesus that the world might be reconciled to Him. And so it must be with our relationships too where grace is exercised, mercy shown and forgiveness extended. Freely we have received, freely we must give. Yet often, in our zest for righteousness, we become pharisaical, condemning and killing relationships instead of bringing life to them.

RESOURCE When the King sends, He also provides. In sending the disciples, Jesus told them not to worry about their needs. As long as we are on mission for the Kingdom, all these will be taken of (cf Matt 6:33). At the same time, every spiritual resource of heaven is available to us too through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit! The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us! We have all power and authority over principalities and powers because we sit with Christ in heavenly places.

REJECTION Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:11-12 Live the ways of the Kingdom and get ready to be rejected and persecuted. Not everyone welcomes the message of the Kingdom. Not everyone desires Jesus to be King. It’s just too bad that they take it out on the messengers of the Kingdom. Jesus warned His disciples, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20) So brace yourself.

RESILIENCE The Christian walk is no walk in the park at all! Remember that we are still in a spiritual battle. There will be opposition and distraction. At times, life seems extremely unfair and God can appear extremely unjust when He allows certain situations to take place. Hence, the need for a sound and renewed mind that knows the person of God and also the good, acceptable and perfect will of God (1 Peter 1:13; Rom 12:2). Hence, the need for persistence in prayer and faith that we might not lose heart (Luke 18:1-8) in the face of difficult and challenging times and people.

REST Make no mistake, Kingdom work is hard work but it need not be burdensome work (1 John 5:3). But it would be extremely tiring and draining if we only relied on our own strength and abilities. Although we might appear to start out strong, it is only a matter of time when we fail and our flesh condemns us. It is in acknowledging our weakness that we begin to trust in His strength, to rest in His completed work, to work from this position of rested-ness in Christ alone!

READINESS & RETURN This is definitely not the time to rest on our laurels, to hang up our boots. If there is any time in the history of humanity to be alert and watchful, this is the time “for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” (Rom 13:11) As we work, let us watch, that the watching may in turn provide the impetus and urgency for our working. The signs of the time are all around us. Jesus is returning soon.

REWARDS These are the words of Jesus: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Rev 22:12 Salvation is not of works but it is for works (Eph 2:8-10). And it is the works that would position us for Kingdom rewards! James reminds us that our works provide the evidence that our faith is real and alive, and by our works, our faith is perfect. I’ve always wondered what “dead faith” (James 2:26) means or results in? Point to ponder for those who might too glibly proclaim, “I’m not after the rewards for I’m content with salvation by faith.”?