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Trip Lee is a 27-year-old rapper, husband, and father of two. He’s also planting a church in Atlanta — yes, he’s a pastor — and late last year he released his fifth studio album, Rise, which quickly hit #1 on the iTunes charts. And he’s just published his second book.

Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story, the companion book to his latest album, comes out today, January 27. I caught up with Trip to talk about Millennials leaving the church, his relationship with John Piper, and why he felt like he had to write about sex, lust, and porn.

You released an album by the same name late last year — how are the two connected? Do the two serve distinct purposes?

I thought of the concept for the book first because when I was thinking about doing a project I thought about what I wanted to communicate to the people that I have influence with, and one of the things I really wanted to communicate was the need for us to not wait until later to take our lives seriously.

With the album, what I wanted to do was introduce those things, and then with the book, that’s where I really wanted to dive deeply. A song captures emotions in unique ways, and a song helps you to celebrate things in unique ways, but at the same time, you only get three or four minutes, so you can only communicate so much. So I wanted to use the songs to do the celebrating, to connect emotionally, to really get people excited about those things, and then use the book to go really deep into those things and help people think about it further.

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Who has inspired you as a rapper, pastor, and author?

In terms of music, I would say probably the most influential on the way I approach the art form is Jay Z. He’s a guy who is arguably the best rapper of all time. The way he uses metaphors and double entendres and the way he’s able to connect with an audience — he’s just really good at what he does. But, obviously, I do it differently than him, because I have a different worldview. I would disagree with some of the things he says, but really respect him as an artist.

In terms of as a pastor and preaching, John Piper is a pastor in Minnesota who I heard a lot of his sermons early on that really inspired me to really want to continue to preach and proclaim God’s word.

As an author, that’s really hard. I would say one: C.S. Lewis. He’s a guy whose writing doesn’t read like sermons, but they’re so engaging and he answers questions before you even ask them and he argues so well and he understands culture well and understands scripture well. He’s a guy who’s influenced me a lot as an author.

How have you been able to blend, as John Piper writes in the introduction, reverence and relevance? The two can seem almost oxymoronic.

I think the main way I do that is just by trying to be myself. So, one thing I could’ve done is I could’ve read John Piper books and I thought, “Man I need to write like him. I need to preach like him.” That’s not me. He’s a white dude in his sixties and I’m a young black dude, a rapper, in my twenties.

I think it does Christianity a disservice if we feel like, “Hey, if I’m going to be serious about my faith, I have to look like this and dress like this and talk like this,” as opposed to, “Hey, when I put my faith in Jesus, he changes me from the inside, so that who I am culturally can stay the same, but I can still talk about deep things.”

Though God is going to call us to grow and change, it’s not going to be change like you have to wear suits now and you have to speak in King James language. No, no. You can still be yourself and be young and be cool, all those things — some people ain’t cool to start with, so you don’t get cool — but God can take you where you are, you can be yourself and you can be changed in a way that matters.

Speaking of, there’s this unique relationship between veteran Reformed guys like Piper and Mark Dever and younger rappers like yourself. Can you talk about that?

I do think it’s unexpected. I think what we’re seeing there is that even though we don’t have a lot in common culturally or age-wise — and maybe these are guys I never would’ve even known or had any kind of relationship with — what we do have in common is that we believe in the same Jesus and that makes us passionate to see the same things happen in the world.

And those are guys who I think get it in a way that they want to pour into people who have influence in different realms. For instance, John Piper, he’s always been incredibly kind, he sought to understand what we do, and then he’s gone out of his way to be really kind to us and love on us.

I think that’s powerful even as we think about some of the racial issues going on. I want people to see that there can be unity, and I’ve seen that unity come in Jesus. We believe in the same Lord — there are a lot of different things that are different about us, but we believe in the same Jesus and that’s what brings us together.

You call out a lot of people — kind of the lukewarm Christians, especially — in the book. Were you nervous about that or do you think it just needed to be done?

I think one of our core values as a culture right now is not ever making any comment on anything anybody else does. The only scripture passage that a lot of people know is that Jesus says, “Don’t judge lest ye be judged,” though of course we know from the context of that passage and other passages, he’s not saying never make any judgment. Scripture commands us to help each other along. I don’t think it does anybody any good if we are afraid to help each other grow.

That’s part of what it means to be a Christian, is to let other people in your life in such a way that you can help each other to grow. I think the problem comes when we’re very self-righteous about it. What in the book I always try to be very open about the fact that, even from the introduction, I do not have it all together. I have issues. I am a Christian not because I have it all together but because I need Jesus desperately.

You write about sex and porn and lust — you don’t really hold back. Were there parts you struggled to write or that were particularly uncomfortable?

Yeah, I mean, I know I’m going to get some emails this week saying, “Hey this may have been a little too real for my teenager,” but these are issues that, especially when you begin to talk about porn, plague us as a culture. It is very rare for me to meet a young man, Christian or not, who hasn’t at some point or is presently looking at porn regularly. And I thought, if I’m writing a book for young people, I cannot not address this particular issue because it’s such an epidemic for us, and something that so many of us struggle with, something that I struggled with in the past.

And then thinking of sex and temptation, I mean that’s such a huge thing for us while we’re young, even more than when we get older. So I just didn’t see a way that I could write an honest book that tried to speak to the unique challenges of following Jesus while we’re young without touching on those topics. And I think, because we don’t have a lot of honest discussion about those things, I think those will end up being some of the chapters that help people the most, because we try to ignore it like it doesn’t exist sometimes, and I don’t think that’s a helpful way to move forward.

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I saw you perform at BET Music Matters in New York. What’s it like when a guy on stage before you is rapping about strip clubs and then you come on and rap about Jesus?

I love that stuff, man, I love that. I love when I get to do at a church and everybody there’s a professing Christian, but I love doing stuff like BET Music Matters because it’s an opportunity for people who normally wouldn’t be exposed to it. I love that, because one, their brain explodes for a second. Because they think Christians could not possibly be good rappers. They’re assuming that I’m about to come up there in choir robes and my rap name is going to be Kanye Blessed and it’s going to be something real corny.

Then I love the fact that they’re getting exposed to something different even if they weren’t expecting it. It’s an opportunity for me to be a light in places where there’s often not a lot of light.

There’s much written about Millennials leaving the church. Why do you think that is — and what do you think the church can do there?

There is one chapter where I talk about this very briefly in the book. It’s a chapter about going deep with God. I think one of the reasons so many people leave is because they’ve only been given really shallow ideas of the faith. When the only thing you know is “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so,” and when you’re only around people who also believe that, it’s not really challenged. But then people go off to college and then they’re getting challenged in class and they’re being exposed to other things, and because no one’s ever helped them to dive deep into scripture, they’re not firmly rooted. Some don’t really even understand what the gospel is, so it’s very easy to be knocked over. It’s nice to give folks pizza and high fives, but that’s not going to be enough if we want to give them the kind of faith that will be sustained.

We’re also just at a time in culture where it’s not respectable as much to be a serious Christian anymore. So, I think what it’s going to take is just the regular thing that God calls Christians to do in the Word: to love people and to tell them the good news about Jesus.

Can you talk about the Christian rapper label?

It’s so funny to me this has become such a huge conversation because normally this is almost always a question that we’re asked, not that we bring up most of the time. I want people to see me as a rapper. It’s very clear I’m a Christian from the way that I live my life and the music that I do — you hear it in my music. I just don’t want people to think of Christian hip-hop as its own genre, like there’s regular hip-hop and then there’s this hip-hop over here for church people.

Instead, I want people to say, ok, here’s a rapper. Is his music dope? Ok, I’ll check it out. And he’s coming from a particular perspective in his worldview. I just don’t want people to put it in a corner somewhere like it’s its own genre. I do hip-hop. I’m a Christian man. So that’s going to be clear in my music. So I think it gives people an idea about the music that’s not true. That’s why I don’t prefer it.

Rappers don’t know what to make of you guys and some Christians don’t know what to make of you guys. You’re kind of stuck in the middle.

Exactly. I think it’s ok to be kind of stuck in the middle. That means we get to carve out our own trail, which in some ways is cool, because there’s nobody who does it quite like we have.

All of you avid Hillsong United followers will know and love this song already. It is called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). It is a beautiful and breath-taking song. Not only is the music a masterpiece, but the lyrics paint a vivid picture of the way Peter felt when he walked on water. Here is the story if you do not know it…

Matthew 14:25-33

25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

There are a couple things I get from this story. The first is that Peter had the faith and trust in God to walk out on the water… WOW. That is scary and intimidating and unknown. And of course he walked out into a storm. It was windy and the waves were coming from all directions, but he still decided to take a step of faith trusting that God was going to guide his steps. I felt like this most times in Years past. I felt like I was walking into something scary, intimidating, and unknown. So I had to trust God with all my heart and know that He was going to take care of me along the way. Are you taking a step of faith towards God’s will for your life? Are you trusting him as you walk on the uneven water?

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The second thing I get from this story is that when Peter walked amongst the waves and the wind, for a split second, he lost sight of Jesus. He lost sight of the one who was keeping him above the waves, and that is the moment he started sinking. But as soon as Jesus came back into Peter’s vision, Peter was lifted to the place of calm and security again. Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus? Are you keeping your gaze above the waves? If this is true in your life, then your persective should be shifted. You are no longer focused on the scary-intimidating-unknown around you, but you are focused on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.

Put yourself in Peter’s situation… ask yourself some hard questions…

Is there a new reformation sweeping the Church today, a reformation as radical and important as the Protestant Reformation that rocked the world 500 years ago? According to a growing number of Christian leaders, the answer is emphatically yes.

Pastor Clark Whitten, author of Pure Grace: The Life Changing Power of Uncontaminated Grace, claims that, “Little has changed in the Protestant church in more than 500 years” – until now, that is. He believes that Luther and Calvin “got it right concerning justification, or how one is saved. . . . But they missed it on sanctification, or how one is perfected into the likeness of Christ.”

Whitten states that Luther and Calvin, followed by the Protestant Church ever since, taught a doctrine of “saved by grace but perfected by human effort,” an approach that has produced “a Church that is judgmental, angry, hopeless, helpless, dependent, fearful, uninspired, ineffective, and perpetually spiritually immature.”

Because of this, Whitten claims, we have failed to impact our culture and have become a laughingstock to most “casual observers.” And Pastor Whitten contends that this doctrine has also brought, “personal devastation” to countless believers who have consequently checked out on Church (or on God Himself).

John Crowder, in his book Mystical Union, claims that, “Just as there is a new mysticism on the rise, I believe it is coupled with a new reformation. The good news will be preached with such clarity that, even the days of Luther will seem utterly primitive in its concepts of grace and faith.”

Indeed, Crowder writes that “a clarity is coming to the preaching of the gospel like has not been heard since the days of the Apostle Paul.”

Other modern grace teachers share similar sentiments. In his book GRACE, the Forbidden Gospel, Andre van der Merwe writes, “Once again in the church there is a struggle for a theological reformation that will liberate believers to break free from the yoke of bondage that has been put on the children of God by people who may have had good intentions, but that have only taught the religious doctrines and traditions that they themselves have been taught.”

His prayer is that his book will “destroy the religious arguments and doctrines of demons forever,” referring to whatever teaching contradicts this allegedly new revelation of grace. That’s why the full title of his book is GRACE, the Forbidden Gospel: Jesus Tore the Veil. Religion Sewed it Back Up, and that’s why Pastor Joseph Prince, perhaps the best-known modern grace preacher, calls this a “Gospel Revolution.”

Could it be, then, that there really is a grace reformation sweeping the Body today? Could it be that the Church has been so stuck in legalistic religion for the last 500 years that nothing less than a radical reformation can get us out of the rut?

It seems clear that many believers have been caught up in externally imposed religion (which is the essence of legalism), seeking to please God by following an endless list of “do’s” and “don’t’s,” never being certain of the Father’s love and looking first to their own efforts rather than looking first to the cross. Consequently, they are always falling short and never walking in the abundant life that Jesus has for them.

Within a two-day span, I heard from two women, both friends of our family and former students in our ministry school, both married with children and active in God’s service. One wrote this: “I am one of many who have been changed drastically and fantastically by the ‘grace message.’ Judging by the amazing fruit of it in my life and my family’s life as we have gone through some very hard times, it is the fruit of the true grace message.”

Speaking of one well-known, modern grace teacher, she explained that while she only agreed with about 80 percent of what he taught, she said that “I feel like I have taken a bath and glimpsed the beauty of Jesus and what he did for me almost every time I hear him.” This is wonderful to hear, and I do not want to tamper with something so sacred and liberating.

The other ministry school grad wrote this: “I can say for me, I sure tried, and worked, and failed. Finally, almost three years ago, I finally had a ‘Grace encounter’ that changed my life. Can honestly say I’m freer, more confident, and more ‘sin-LESS’ than I’ve ever been. If that makes sense.”

This is from the Lord!

Sadly, I have met many believers who have struggled with legalism and performance-based religion, and when I hear today that, through a revelation of God’s grace, they are now living in intimacy with the Lord and overflowing with joy at His great love for them, I am thrilled.

That is truly wonderful news, and it indicates that, for many, there is a need for a fresh infusion of anointed teaching on the beauty and glory and wonder of God’s amazing grace.

At the same time, I constantly hear stories from believers and leaders concerned about the modern grace message, like this one: “I have seen the effects of this message on my own loved ones. It has ruined our family and caused many of them who loved the Lord to stray.”

And this, “We have seen this up close and personal with some of our family members. Very destructive things are going on.”

And this, from a pastor, who spoke of “the three close male friends I have had in the past, all three from the grace side; two were unfaithful and then left their wives and the third just left. I have had no one close in the grace group (forgive my terms) displaying good lasting fruit.”

One young man, who had served together with a well-known hyper-grace leader wrote to me at length, wanting me to understand just how bad things were: “I heard more ‘F’ and ‘S’ words in that movement than anywhere else in my entire life. After all, you’re ‘legalistic’ if you EVER tell someone to ‘not’ do something.”

Is this simply a matter of the modern grace message being abused?

Honestly, I wish that was the case, since I love the message of grace and it would be a shame if pastors and leaders drew back from preaching grace because it was abused.

But the truth is that the modern grace message is quite mixed, combining life-changing, Jesus-exalting revelation with serious misinterpretation of Scripture, bad theology, divisive and destructive rhetoric, and even fleshly reaction. And, in all too many cases, it is being embraced by believers who are not just looking for freedom from legalism but also freedom from God’s standards.

There is no doubt in my mind, then, that the notion of a “grace reformation” (or “grace revolution”) is highly exaggerated, that some of this new grace teaching is unbalanced, overstated, at times unbiblical, and sometimes downright dangerous – and I mean dangerous to the well-being of the Body of Christ.

In short, I do not believe that we are witnessing a new grace reformation. I believe we are witnessing the rise of a hyper-grace movement, filled with its own brand of legalistic judgmentalism, mixing some life-giving truth from the Word with some destructive error.

And that’s why I wrote Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message, a book for grace lovers, not grace haters, a book for those who embrace both grace and truth (John 1:14, 17). Does that describe you?

(Excerpted and adapted from Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message.)

Many wonder why, if Africa is growing, as the “Africa Rising” story claims, large numbers of Africans are still desperate to escape to Europe at great risk to their lives.

The “Africa Rising” story is a tale that is being told virtually everywhere, and which even the Afro-sceptics are gradually coming to terms with.

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However, at the same time, it is a story that has its dark side, such as the growing levels of economic inequality that have accompanied Africa’s “rise”.

Africa is the second-most inequitable region in the world, after Latin America. According to a 2012 publication of the African Development Bank, “inequalities have not diminished over time. In 2010, six out of the 10 most unequal countries worldwide were in sub-Saharan Africa, and more specifically in Southern Africa”.

While the rich are getting richer, the poor are wallowing in need, and the backlash of this trend may threaten not only the little progress our continent has made, but our collective sense of humanity and decency which defines Africa’s ubuntu philosophy – of community solidarity, care and responsibility that seeks expression in the phrase, “I am, because we are; and since we are, therefore I am”.

The benefits of economic growth have been skewed and disproportionately shared. A tiny group of less than 4% captures a large chunk of the income and wealth in Africa’s changing tide of capitalist progress. In this landscape, a nouveau niche has arisen, a transnational capitalist elite class who are the primary beneficiaries of Africa’s economic growth.

Out of Nigeria comes Africa’s richest person, Aliko Dangote; while in South Africa, as Ben Turok rightly noted in his latest book (With My Head Above the Parapet), the number of dollar millionaires grows. From 2007 to 2013, the numbers swelled by 14% from 2007 to 2013 even as the value of the South African rand depreciated markedly.

Addressing inequality can be a win-win situation both for the powerful and powerless in society.

Africa’s bubbling white-collar middle class has not been left out in the growth trajectory. The new consumptionist culture in African cities, with the mushrooming of shopping malls and large supermarkets, suggests that purchasing power is increasing, if only for a small, yet important part of the population.

This is good news because without a national capitalist class, which in the Marxian parlance is referred to as a national bourgeoisie, and without a thriving middle class, neither capitalist transformation nor liberal democracy can be achieved or institutionalised.

But this is where the good story ends. Beyond this, the large majority of Africans are disconnected from whatever we call economic growth in our countries; they do not see it; they do not feel it; and they do not live it.

Many wonder that if Africa is growing, why are some Africans desperate to escape to Europe by sea, at great risk to their lives. To add insult to injury, some see the Western media reports of these desperate migrants as containing an element of sarcasm. If Africa is growing, one would have thought that the incentive would have been for its people to stay at home and contribute to its transformation.

If Africa is growing, why are conflicts escalating on the continent? In classical economic theory, growth is supposed to open up economic opportunities, stimulate economic and social empowerment, and thereby reduce tensions in society.

Conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Libya, and Nigeria remind us that Africa is not yet out of the woods. Those conflicts, though mostly context- specific, have varied reasons, which include the growing problem of deprivation.

Deprivation and inequality

Spatial, gender and income inequalities all coalesce to deny people their basic socio-economic rights and a stake in the system, which sometimes fuels political conflict.

The warped motive of the Boko Haram insurgency may not relate to inequality, but its combustive elements may be. Ignorance and deprivation are two factors that may have made it possible for the terrorist group to recruit young people to kill and maim their fellow citizens.

With good education and decent jobs available, Boko Haram might have been denied the young foot soldiers that it deploys in its heinous crimes.

In the CAR, Christians and Muslims who have lived together for generations in relative harmony are suddenly at each other’s throats as enemies. Scarcity, deprivation and inequality, the triplet sisters, breed hatred, anger and conflict amongst friends, brothers and communities.

The problem of inequality in Africa is not an unregistered one – many important groups have acknowledged it. The African Progress Panel led by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, in its 2013 report had this to say: “Some resource-rich countries have made impressive strides in improving the lives of their people. But overall progress has been uneven – and in some areas it has fallen short of expectations.

“After a decade of strong growth, several of Africa’s resource-rich countries remain at the bottom of the international league-table for human development. Others register some of the world’s largest inequalities in wealth and in wellbeing, as captured by indicators such as life expectancy and education”.

Africa displays an uneven pattern in terms of the scale, trend, sources and impact of economic inequality by countries and regions on the continent. For some countries that experienced settler colonialism, the problem is more deep-seated, with the legacy of segregation and group denial, lingering on.

For some other countries that made great strides at addressing the problem at independence with huge investments in the public goods of education, health, and other social services, however, the years of structural adjustment in the 1980s and 90s not only rolled back the gains made, but also instituted a new logic that made social policy irrelevant in economic decisions.

Underpinned by a Hobbesian logic of “fend for thyself”, the state sought an exit from the provision of public goods and social safety nets. The consequences were dire; poverty intensified, inequality deepened, and the strong and powerful trampled on the weak in society.

Africa’s growth pattern, driven by a commodity boom, provides only limited opportunities for employment and inclusive economic progress. It enriches the state, but does not transform the lives of the citizens.

Indeed, de-industrialisation is the flip side of Africa’s growth pattern as more cash-fuelled greedy imported appetites, of goods from China, Brazil, Singapore, South Korea and other new emerging economies.

In South Africa, the textile industry is struggling to breathe, let alone survive, as the country is awash with cheap clothes from other parts of the world.

The textile industry had long collapsed in many other parts of the continent in the late 1980s under “structural adjustment programmes”.

Cheap imports dwarf, if not destroy, local industries, export jobs, stunt diversification, and exacerbate poverty and inequality.

The global phenomenon

But let’s concede that inequality is now a global phenomenon, and that it is not only an African challenge. Other parts of the world are equally grappling with it. The Occupy Wall Street campaign is no different from the agitations of young people in Tunisia and Egypt or the service delivery protests in South Africa.

The difference is that given limited resources and opportunities, Africa’s capacity to absorb those shocks and the pain of inequality is limited, hence, it is more visible, with greater impact on the continent.

As global capitalism grows, it breeds its own discontents. Global capitalism, in its unabashed neo-liberal form, continues to appropriate and consolidate wealth for a few, and poverty for the rest.

Capitalism, as Karl Marx once noted, is the most progressive social system ever invented by man, but it lacks a face, a conscience or a heart. It can be daring, ruthless and enslaving.

For it to recreate itself, it has to mitigate its negative consequences by expanding opportunities for the weak and powerless in society, showing care and affection to the vulnerable, and including everybody in its growth process, even while giving more to
some, than others.

This has been the strength of the Scandinavian model of capitalist development.

As Africa seeks to claim the 21st century, it must do more than the present. It should diversify its economies from commodity production to the industrial sector, and to small and medium scale industries that create jobs and add value to the production chain. The focus should be on unleashing creativity.

This should include the agro-allied sector and beneficiation in the natural resources industry. Training and skills development should also be attuned to the modern economy.

The educational system inherited from colonialism cannot keep pace with the drive and technology of the 21st century; it requires a drastic overhaul.

Finally, the state must take its rightful place not only in driving development by creating policies and regulatory regimes, it should be the force to mitigate poverty and inequality in society.

Inequality is not only an economic malaise; it is also a social and political liability to any society. If it is not tamed, it can consume whatever gains that the capitalist system might have accumulated.

Addressing inequality can be a win-win situation both for the powerful and powerless in society. It can create social harmony, mutual trust, and confidence between the haves and have-nots. It is a step towards a collective dream that another world – fairer and just – is possible and desirable for us all!

Prof. Adejumobi lives in Lusaka, Zambia. The views expressed here are personal and in no way represent the views or opinion of any organisation.

Grady Nutt, the late Christian comedian and preacher, used to have an entire routine that revolved around, ‘the call to the ministry!’ He added to that last word the grunt that many old-timer southern preachers add to almost every sentence. The word came out sounding like ‘ministruh’ with a strong emphasis on the last syllable.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:1, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

Somewhere along the way between Paul and Grady many Christians came to the conclusion that ‘the call’ was only for ministers. In fact, ‘the call’ is described in hushed tones, as though it were some sort of divine, communicable disease with which God infected a certain few of His followers. And if one were to ‘get the call,’ it could result in a new big voice, big hair and a big Bible.

It is the conclusion of this writer that the church has misunderstood the words call and calling. The result then, is that the Great Commission that Jesus gave to all of His followers, is only being attempted by a handful.

In Paul’s opening words to the Corinthians in his first letter to them, he describes himself as “called to be an apostle,” then goes on to describe the church as those who are “called to be holy, to gather with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

All three uses of the word call are from the same word in the original language of the Bible. It is the same word in Ephesians 4:1 and it has the general meaning of invite or summons, to call someone.

The question before the church then, is not, ‘Who is called?’ or ‘Have you been called?’ Rather, it is ‘Will you respond to the call of God on your life?’ The Bible teaches that all Christians are called by God to serve in His kingdom. Will we respond like Isaiah with “Here am I, send me,” or will we take the next-boat-to-Tarshish approach of Jonah? To better understand this subject we must see that there are three aspects of ‘call’ in every believers life.

First of all, there is a call to salvation. God sent His Son Jesus to seek and to save those who are lost. Peter explains that God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”(2 Pet. 3:9b) God calls us to salvation and by grace through faith we can call back. Paul wrote, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13)

Next, that call does not just result in ‘fire assurance’ as some term it, there is also a call to Christlikeness or holiness. “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy. “‘ (1 Pet. 1:15-16) The Christian is called, is summonsed to act like a Christian all the time, to be like Christ.

The word holy has the idea of being set apart. Like mother’s fine china dinnerware, the Christian has a special purpose. Unlike that china however, a Christian’s holy lifestyle is on view every day. God has called us to be Christians, to be set apart. There ought to be something different about us because of our relationship with Jesus. That difference is a Christlikeness that attracts others to what we have.

Third, every believer is called to ministry in God’s kingdom. Ephesians chapter 4 is one of four New Testament passages that list and discuss spiritual gifts. We must notice that none of these are considered exhaustive lists. Who can put a limit on what the Holy Spirit can do with obedient believers?

The Ephesians passage mentions gifts that we normally think of when we hear someone speak of being called to ministry. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers called “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

The clear teaching of scripture is that all Christians are called to ministry. Earlier in Chapter 2, Paul wrote, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph.2:10) The gifts of chapter 4 then, inform us that some Christians are called to a particular ministry of preparing other Christians to do their ministry.

Every Christian has been called by God; called to salvation, called to personal holiness and then called to service or ministry. Some Christians are called to the particular offices mentioned in the fourth chapter of Ephesians. However, there are as many ways to minister as there are ministers!

For the Great Commission to be obeyed, every soldier in God’s army must do his or her assigned task with his or her grace gifts. The question is not, ‘Are you called?’ It is, ‘Will you obey the call?’

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Roy D. Hall is Pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Diboll, TX and Professor of Bible at Angelina College in Lufkin, TX.
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Pastor Todd Wagner is pastor of Watermark Community Church located in Dallas, Texas… in this short excerpt from a Service in the Church he Explains the Greatest Warning to all Believers. Enjoy and be Blessed.

BREAKUP 2 MAKEUP

Posted: October 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

Source: BREAKUP 2 MAKEUP

Have you ever said to yourself, I’m not going to eat that chocolate . . . and then all you can think about is . . . chocolate? In the battle with temptation – and who doesn’t fight it – we’ll shoot the arrow through our own foot every time if our thoughts are aimed downward.

A Friend of mine (Lets call him John )suffered many such wounds during his 10-year battle with Masturbation. “For a time, I became a dry jerker,” he told me in one of our many discussions. “I wasn’t wanking, but I had done nothing to quiet the desperation inside my head. I always ended up going back to the thing.”

What John needed was a change of focus. Rather than dwelling on what he shouldn’t do, John-like everyone struggling with a harmful habit or addiction-needed to focus on three key targets from God’s Word:

Target #1: God’s purpose for me is to be conformed to the character of Christ.
The Bible says you are “. . . predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29).

  •  “Christ lives in me to conform my character to His character.”
  •  “I will yield to His control and do what’s best for my body.”

Target #2: God’s priority for me is to change my thinking.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

  •  “I’ll release my guilt to God and line up my thinking with His thinking.”
  •  “I’ll replace my defeated thinking with the positive promises from God’s Word.”

Target #3: God’s plan for me is to rely on Christ’s power to change me.
Philippians 4:13 gives this assurance: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

  •  “I’ll give Christ control of my life in order to ( list specific actions ).”
  •  “With the strength of Christ I will ( list specific attitudes ).”

Most times, dejected strugglers like John meet me to express their defeat: “As much as I want to change, I simply can’t. Nothing works.” But God’s Word says otherwise: “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness . . . .” So why is there such a battle? It occurs because the fear of pain keeps strugglers stuck.

As John went on to explain to me, “My addiction was both the root of my problem and my answer. It was my hell and my salvation . . . my curse and my blessing. It made life intolerable . . . and was the only thing that made life tolerable.”

The reality is this: Either way you go, you will have pain. If you stay as you are, you’re going to have pain. If you leave your addiction, you’re going to have pain. It’s guaranteed to hurt either way. Pain, however, can be your ally (propelling you to positive change) or your enemy (paralyzing you to stay stuck). You have a choice. Making the courageous decision to break free is the only way you’ll eventually be free – free from the pain of the past.

Fortunately, John finally chose to escape his debilitating addiction. “I never could have achieved it without the help of God, family, and the recovery community,” he said. “Through God, I received the grace, clarity of mind, and strength to ask for help.”

And that same help is available to you and your loved ones . . . right now! I can say with complete certainty that God can empower any person to defeat any addiction at any time – no matter the number of failed attempts. With Him, all things really are possible . . . including lasting freedom from any addiction.

The following is an excerpt from my message, “Stirring Truth That Makes Men Useful.”

THE KINFOLK KOLLECTIVE

A few days ago my son and I went grocery shopping. As a general rule, I do not take my baby with me to grocery shop because as any mother of young children – my son turns seven next month – will tell you, a trip for groceries with the children turns into an event laden with begging, tantrums and running through the aisles. This day, however, I wanted to be close to my boy for no other reason than the fact that I adore him, so I let him tag along.

Standing in aisle 5 as my son grabbed oatmeal, an older black woman approached selecting a box of oatmeal, then looking at the price, and finally replacing it. She walked away turning back to advise me, “If you have a car, you need to go to Walmart. Their prices are way cheaper.” I started to say, “I know…

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