Know Your Culture, Connect to Your Culture: Lecrae Raps the Gospel in One Minute

The missional visionary is also a cultural architect. One of Auxano’s primary assertions is that each church has a unique culture. You’ve got to know your community to reach your community.

Nowhere is that more evident that when dealing with the current young generations. Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God Ministries recently sat down with Lecrae to talk about his latest album, Gravity, which just won Best Gospel Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Here Lacrae raps the gospel in one minute:

Lecrae gets it – and connects to a young generation.

What about your church? How are you listening in order to understand the surrounding culture?

Read more from Jonathan here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Parnell

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their three children: Elizabeth, Hannah, and Micah.

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What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

When the Light Comes On: Creatively Using the Power of Story for Your Church’s Worship

Stories move us. They engage us. They inspire us. Stories give us examples of how to act – and how not to act. The best ones stay with us forever.

How can you use the power of story for your church’s worship? Here are two powerful examples: the simplicity of a verbal  story and the imagery of a visual story. Enjoy – and learn.         – Vision Room Curator

 

When the Light Comes On

My oldest daughter isn’t sleeping well. It’s the dark. From fear of what might be under her bed, to who might be looking through her window, she has her reasons for preferring the lights on.

In fact, she has started a new nightly routine. After the house is settled and her parents are quiet, presumably asleep, she secretly slips out of her room to flip on the nearby hallway light and then returns to bed. Somehow she finds a measure of comfort from the crease of light between the floor and the bottom of her door.

But she shouldn’t be doing this. The rule is to stay in bed. And a few nights ago I caught her red-handed.

I was standing quietly in the dark hall and heard her scurrying around behind her door. She didn’t know I was there, and I suspected she was going to pull the hall light stunt. Sure enough, the door slowly cracked open. I have her, I thought. But she didn’t move. She didn’t come turn on the light. She was frozen. There, inside the frame of her door, she peered in silence at me, a black silhouette of a stranger for all she knew. Then she started to cry. I quickly flipped the light switch. “Sweetie, it’s me,” I said, picking her up in my arms. And just like that, she was fine. The light was on. She saw who I was. I hugged her with love.

The whole scene transformed when the light came on. That light uncovered my identity. Once blinded by darkness, she soon discovered that the figure in the hallway, appearing bigger and stronger than her, was actually her dad who loves her and would spend his every conceivable resource to protect her.

Revelation was the key. She had to see who I was.

God in the Dark

Do you remember what it is like to be in the dark with God?

So much of our lives — and the entire lives of some — are spent hauntingly aware of some strange presence down a pitch-black hallway. We know he is there. We recognize some silhouette of deity. We see some figure of a being our conscience says is bigger and stronger. But we don’t truly know him. And we won’t truly know him unless he turns on the light. Unless he reveals himself.

The prophets of Baal know what it’s like to be in the dark. In one of the saddest scenes in all of Scripture, 1 Kings 18:28–29, hundreds of these prophets gathered to see their god. It was a historic showdown between Elijah, the Lord’s prophet, and 450 “spokesmen” for the false god Baal. The petition was simple: send fire from heaven. Whoever answers is the true God (1 Kings 18:24). And so the prophets of Baal stepped up to the plate.

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. (1 Kings 18:26)

That’s not a good start. So they tried harder. The Bible tells us that they cried aloud and cut themselves with swords and lances until the blood gushed out (1 Kings 18:28). Until the middle of the day, they limped around bleeding and crying out for their god to hear them, to say something. Imagine that scene: 450 wounded, weeping prophets sliced up their flesh in hopes of receiving the slightest gesture from their god.

“But there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention” (1 Kings 18:29).

They were stuck in the dark. There was nothing to see. There is no light to reveal a no-god. The abiding darkness answers itself.

We Have a Different Story

But there’s no such darkness between the Christian and his Lord. That’s not our story. In fact, it’s the reverse. Rather than 450 prophets with wounds all over their bodies and their blood gushing out, we see our God hanging on a cross with wounds all over his body, his blood gushing out. Rather than the horrific scene of fools seeking to hear from a false god, we see the most preeminent display of love when the real God spoke to a world of fools.

We were in the dark. We deserved nothing more. And then, in unspeakable grace, the sovereign God of the universe reached up to turn on the light — “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

His voice intruded the defeated darkness. He reached down and picked us up in his arms. “It’s me,” he said. And then we learn that this God, bigger and stronger than we could ever imagine, hasn’t spared his greatest resource to not only protect us but ensure our everlasting joy (Romans 8:32).

The light is on. We see who he is. We don’t have to be afraid.

Read more from Jonathan here.

 

Elevation Creative: Elijah on Mount Carmel

During our series IN•FIN•8, we’re looking back at eight of the greatest stories forever told. To introduce each week’s sermon, our Creative Team retells one of these stories from a different perspective, in an attempt to recapture the power and impact of hearing for the first time. For part three, we combined spoken word with step-dancing to tell the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel in a dramatic new way.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Parnell

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their three children: Elizabeth, Hannah, and Micah.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

God as the Communicator

It was a stretch you might say. A 19th century British preacher apprehended a 3,000-year-old psalm for peace and courage in the midst of dire circumstances. Andree Seu Peterson tells the story in a recent article:

In the middle of a cholera epidemic in 1854, Charles Spurgeon was returning home from yet another funeral when a shard of paper wedged in a shoemaker’s window caught his eye. It said, “Because thou hast made the Lord … thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” Surgeon subsequently wrote:

“The effect upon my heart was immediate. Faith appropriated the passage as her own. I felt secure, refreshed, girt with immortality. I went on with my visitation of the dying in a calm and peaceful spirit; I felt no fear of evil, and I suffered no harm.”

Peterson calls Spurgeon’s resolve “extrapolation.” She explains that, for Christians, it’s what readers of Scripture do when they infer God will do something based upon what we know about him.

Reading Off His Rocker?

Inspired by another’s example, Spurgeon believed Psalm 91:9–10 concluded that God would protect him. But should such an old psalm about Jesus really propel pastors into ministerial fearlessness?

Was Spurgeon reading off his rocker?

No, I don’t think so.

Here’s why: Spurgeon’s application of Psalm 91 is at the heart of God’s communicative intent in Scripture at large, and this psalm in particular.

To be sure, he could have walked away with plenty of wrong conclusions. What if he took this verse to mean that government no longer needs to exist and he joined an anarchist movement (or something bizarre like that)? My point is that any application won’t do, but many applications could — so long as they fit with the goal of God discerned from the whole Bible, and are tethered to what he intended when he first inspired the words.

Reading It Right

We don’t know what Spurgeon already had stored up on Psalm 91. He may have diagrammed the Hebrew at some point and even discovered connections within the psalter as a whole. But at face-value, as far as we know, he saw an English translation of two verses removed from their context and deduced (I’m arguing) the right thing.

No evil or plague shall be allowed to befall you if you take refuge in the Lord, says Psalm 91:9–10. Yes. As we have seen early in Psalm 2:12, refuge in the Lord is the ultimate hedge of protection from ultimate harm, which actually includes most fiercely the wrath of the Son. No evil would befall Charles Spurgeon. But what if he contracted cholera and died? Still, no evil would be befall him — no ultimate evil of ultimate harm. Words can’t express the absolute safety in which God’s children live. And he knew that. These verses broke in with a timely reminder.

Spurgeon felt secure. He was refreshed. The psalm became a turning point for him, a scene in his life of faith when God’s grace toward him in Jesus reached further into his every day and staked the flag of gospel dominion. Which is, by the way, one primary goal of God in the Bible.

Behind Every Text

God is “for us and for our salvation” and so it is with his word. Behind every text of Scripture, each with their own particular meanings, there is a God who essentially reveals himself — a God who has preeminently made himself known in our Lord Jesus Christ and has given us the Bible as his definitive testimony.

Psalm 91:9–10 effected security in a Christian heart. Amen. Spurgeon read it and was changed. And the most astonishing thing about his story should be why we ourselves don’t have the same experience more often. I fear that many Christians grow tired of reading the Bible because it feels boring. And it feels boring because we have removed God from the equation.

Many of us come to Scripture like Deists. Sure, God created the world and is involved in its sustenance. He has everything to do with the smallest things of his general revelation (Psalm 29:9; Matthew 10:29). But would we make him less involved in the hearing of his word? Is he hands-off when it comes to the comprehension of his special revelation? Certainly not! You see, behind every text of Scripture — and present and active as you read Scripture! — is a God who has bent low in self-giving love to tell us who he is that we might be drawn into his fellowship. That we might have more of him. More of his supremacy in our lives. More of his presence securing our steps. More of his refuge commissioning us out in sacrificial, risk-taking love.

Getting His Point Across

God is the only communicator there has ever been who is so sovereignly involved in getting his message across. No one else has the authority to always bring about exactly what was purposed when words go forth (Isaiah 55:10–11). No one else has a Holy Spirit who accompanies speech to make deaf ears hear and blind eyes see (1 Corinthians 2:12; Romans 8:27). Don’t we know he is at work every time we read the Bible?

God doesn’t save apart from his word (Romans 10:17). And God doesn’t sanctify apart from it either. I want so bad, in my life and yours, what happened to Spurgeon that afternoon in 1854. God has a lot to say to us in his word — a lot to effect in us and change in us and through us impact the world. Let us read.

Read more from Jonathan here.

 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Culture >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Parnell

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a content strategist at Desiring God. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Melissa, and their three children: Elizabeth, Hannah, and Micah.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.