"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Mary, You Did Know!
Last year in honor of Christmas, I wrote an article titled “The Perspective of the King’s Expecting Parents!” In that article, I wrote from the perspective concerns that Mary and Joseph may have had as a young newly formed couple about to embark on the journey of their lives, raising the King of Kings! It is similar to another great work that I often run across around Christmas time. Many of us have heard the song “Mary, Did You Know?” It is sort of a Christmas tradition in many churches to play this song every Christmas season, while others hear it on the radios this time of year. It’s written from what appears to be Mary’s motherly perspective and asks some very emotionally charged questions for any mom in her position. I will post the actual song on the end of this post, but for those of you who rather not listen, here are the lyrics:
Mary, Did You Know?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you
Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect lamb?
That sleeping child you're holding is the great I am
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know?
Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Mary did you know? Oh
Mary did you know?
Song Writers: Buddy Greene/Mark Lowry
Not to knock the meaning and value of the song as we know it, but I want to pose a challenge. Mary not only knew who that little baby boy was that she held in her arms, she also knew quite a bit about his purpose. As a gentile mother she may have had nearly all of the questions that the song presents, but as a Hebrew mom, knowing the history and faith she was taught, I highly doubt many of these questions ever remained a concern for her. Out of all the Hebrew women in the nation, God chose her and for good reason. Mary was pure and had never known a man. Hebrews in those days would have grown up hearing the scrolls of the Torah (The Law) and Tanakh (whole thing) read in the Synagogue. They would have heard the precious words of God even in schools. The Torah includes the 5 early Old Testament books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy and the Tanakh is the entirety of the Jewish Bible. From these books we find prophecies about the soon coming of the Messiah (Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).
Prophecies such as:
The Messiah would be in the lineage of the tribe of Judah:
Genesis 49:10 (KJV)
“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”
King David would be part of the lineage of the Messiah:
2 Samuel 7:12-16 (NKJV)
“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the [a]blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before [b]you. Your throne shall be established forever.”
The Messiah would certainly be born in Bethlehem:
Micah 5:2 (KJV)
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
The Messiah would approach Jerusalem riding upon a donkey:
Zechariah 9:9 (KJV)
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
The Messiah would according to scripture, suffer, match a description, would be silent during his trial, buried in a rich man’s grave, and would be resurrected from the dead:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” –v.3
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” –v.5
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” –v.7
“And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” –v.9-11
All of these details and hundreds of others were established centuries before the birth of Christ and would have been part of Mary’s faith and traditions.
As we can see from Mary’s responses to her “unique” and bizarre situation of being a virgin mother, we can see that she already had expectations and faith in God’s way of doing things:
Luke 1:26-38 (KJV)
“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.”
Notice that Mary doesn’t question if this son would be legitimate, beg God to take such a hard situation away from her, or even question if God could do it. She not only knows that God can, she asks how it would all happen as if to say, “instruct me what to do.”
Even Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin and John the Baptist’s mother) understood what was about to happen. In Luke 1:43 we find her saying, “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Later on in Jesus’ life, even before the public knew exactly who Jesus was because His ministry had not even begun yet, Mary once again allowed her understanding of who her son was to be on display. Even though we find in John 2 where Mary begs Jesus to perform the miracle of making more wine for a wedding party and Jesus tries to resist due to the timing of ministry not being right, the faith of his Mother inspires Jesus to perform the miracle anyway. What is awesome is her faith, determination, and confidence in who Jesus was and what He could do.
In verse five “His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)
There is a lesson here in this perspective of Mary for all of us. Today, little girls dreams may not be to one day be the mother of the soon coming Messiah, but we can all be excited about the purpose that God has birthed into our lives. In a way, we are all Mary’s expected something the world considers impossible, living with a purpose and a promise of redemption! While the world believes the lie that we all made it here by accident and will meet the same meaningless fate at death, God gives His people a hope for not only a future, but a future filled with “abundant life.”
So, I ask you today, what dream has God birthed into you?
What are you “expecting”?
Notice that v. 37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
My next question to you is that if you already have faith in God, are you obedient?
Are you doing as Mary instructed to the servants, “whatever He says to you”?
As you reflect this Christmas on the “Reason” for the season, don’t forget to remember the purpose God has placed in your heart and the decisions that lead you in the direction of the path God has set before you.
Mary could have taken a much different path and a total different direction, but God knew that she wouldn’t because He knew her heart.
Mary may not have known just how awesome the miracle of Jesus would be, but what she did know was that He was surely a miracle and that “with God nothing shall be impossible.”
You also may not know for sure just how awesome and powerful your journey may be, but you have the assurance of God and the promises that He brings to our lives. So with boldness and faith this Christmas season, proclaim the name of Christ to all those you encounter and walk in obedience to the Lord.
Reaping The Harvest: An In-depth Look at Kanye West’s Sunday Service
This thanksgiving as I was gathered around with family, I couldn’t help but overhear to the proud family cooks talking about how grateful they were that everyone loved their cooking so much, but slightly upset that they didn’t get to keep any themselves after others gathered takeout plates. I couldn’t help but to think about how the art of good cooking (southern cooking especially) has been almost been lost with the generations before. People crave genuinely home cooked meals over the pre-prepared and processed food served at many restaurants today. Even the “sit down” places serve mostly factory processed ingredients in their “so-called” fresh dishes. The fake processed stuff just doesn’t do what our bodies need it to. They don’t provide the nutritional punch, but rather a punch to our slowing metabolisms. The only thing growing from all of this are the waist lines of America.
Just like in our food, people spiritually crave the genuine gospel whether that’s what they recognize it as or not. Where there is not a genuine experience with God, it is substituted. For some it may be some type of substance abuse, while for others it may be a more honorably viewed aspect of life such as religion, but regardless the presence of God in our life will be substituted if not present. Those who are tired of the same old routine church services or being beaten down by those who claim to be Christians don’t want what is fake. They don’t want plain tradition, religion, or judgmental attitudes; they want a genuine encounter with God. Before we can tell them how to act, dress, pray, or whatever else some Christians believe it is their duty to enforce upon the lost who don’t even know God yet, we must obey the Spirit and give the people what it is their soul desires, a genuine encounter with the genuine gospel of Jesus Christ.
After the death of Billy Graham and many great heavyweights of the faith recently, I began to think in my conscious that maybe God is either preparing the next generation for a great move or He has already chosen someone to be the next source of a great awakening in our country. My faith and God’s Word tells us that “He’s not done with us yet.” What I didn’t know is that God was doing quite a work in Kanye West. Yes, you heard that right, the rap artists that has won numerous awards and prided himself off his own abilities to make masterpieces in the music industry. As one can imagine, Christ-like behavior, demeanor, and language is not what the popular hip-hop artist is known for. However, after doing quite a bit of research into Kanye’s life for the past year and seeing some interviews of important people in Kanye’s life, it appears that Kanye has experienced a genuine conversion experience in Christ. He has not only recently produced a gospel album called “Jesus Is King,” but has begun a series of worship services in various cities called “Sunday Service” held in arenas and venues around the country.
I must admit, when I first heard Kanye West had a plan to introduce the gospel in a “music concert” sort of style or fashion, I was a little skeptical. My next thought was that he must be having another “moment.” As it turns out it was nothing of the sort, but rather a product of his newfound genuine faith in Christ. After Kanye’s conversion, he took a familiar path like many of us; however the circumstances were certainly a little different than your average new “babe in Christ.” After hearing Kanye’s testimony, it appears that after his conversion, he began connect with local pastor Adam Tyson. Although Pastor Tyson’s church is not the size of a typical mega-church in California, Kanye somehow connected with the pastor after randomly attending his church for a few weeks. Kanye even began flying Pastor Tyson out to his ranch in Wyoming after a few weeks of meetings and Bible study at the church when Kanye had to travel. It is at that ranch where God began birthing the dream of “Sunday Service” in Kanye. This “service” has not only been effective, it’s attracting a lot of attention outside of the Christian circles. While it is rather early in the series of the event to gather analytics and prove with numbers the impact that the service has, it is obvious that the Sunday Service has had a huge impact on people’s lives all around the world. Just looking in the comments of the archived services on YouTube, you will find comments like “since the day this record came out, my life has changed” and “I met God at this service.”
This article by Rolling Stone is an interview with Kanye’s Choir Director and talks about how Kanye’s vision grew into a reality from simple songs to massive events over a course of a few months:
Looking at it from God’s perspective, Kanye has the perfect platform for God to impact the world through. He has a following of millions all across the world (even though there have been radical statements and scandals that have turned some away from him in the past), he has some of the greatest live performance skills of anyone ever in the music industry, he’s been a producer for nearly his entire career, and he has the financial resources to do much of it without any resources being fronted to him. However, all these things can also be obstacles to someone who can’t handle such access to resources and popularity. The great thing is that Kanye has risen out of such an environment by the strength of God and although he has chased all of these idols in the past, he now seeks God above it all. This is an artist who I listened to as a young man while he blasphemed against God, calling himself the savior. He now not only claims Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, he professes that his new purpose is to “serve and glorify Christ in all he does.” In one service Kanye even mentions how, “the devil had me chasing a golden statue (referring to music awards),” but now he chases God and the purpose that God has given him.
So, what is it about Sunday Service that works so well? Well, remember what I said about the people thirsting for a genuine gospel? This is what I was talking about! A recent convert, fresh off a year-long growing process in the Lord, fired up by a dream planted by God with all the resources needed to share the gospel through the methods that the enemy once used him for being genuine with the people. That is what works folks. Billy Graham wasn’t just effective because he was a good preacher (I actually believe my local pastor may be more gifted in that aspect), but Billy Graham was a genuine believer who was on fire for God and was given the tools necessary to share it with the masses. He knew how to connect with the everyday people of American and Kanye knows how to not only connect with much of the world, but especially the younger generations of America.
Sunday Service doesn’t do away with traditional Christian songs or even many of the traditional church methods of having service. The service still utilizes a choir, sing old gospel hymns, and include preacher giving the gospel message. What it does incorporate however are the smooth music production skills of Kanye and other professionals God has placed in his life, along with keeping the basics of the gospel intact throughout the entire theme of the service. At points throughout the service you may hear the testimony of Kanye himself and many other subtle elements that are effective at delivering the gospel message. Even the worship music crosses over cultural boundaries. I may be no musician, but I know good worship music that helps me connect with God when I hear it. During the first Sunday Service, the worship songs varied from traditional black gospel to hymns and included added flavors of genres such hip-hop, reggae, and many others. While this may certainly be outside the boundaries for many who are used to the “traditional” ways of worship and doing things, we also realize that these services aren’t mostly geared towards seasoned believers, but the world who will be reached by Kanye’s methods. While many in the church may have spiritually grown past being attracted to this type of service, remember that every ministry has its own culture. Kanye’s culture in this season of his walk will be one of attracting the lost into a genuine encounter with God.
When God does a work in someone like Kanye, it does awesome things to the confidence and faith of a whole generation. What our nation and the entire world frankly needs is a movement of God sourced in the youth framework of this country. When great revivals come about in the young generations, the movement has an impact not just for today, but for generations to come. While the world may be changing (and not always for the good), God is doing great things among the spiritual warfare brewing all around us. Psalm 27:3 tells us, “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”
Let us not continually discount and dismiss the work God is doing in Kanye, but let us celebrate what the Lord has done. Even if Mr. West is lead by the wayside tomorrow, the work that has already been done through the dream that God has manifested through the hands of this man, will continue to have a spiritual impact for generations to come. Let us learn a lesson to take back to our own local ministries in that genuine faith, genuine love, and getting back to the basics of Christ is what the people need and are seeking. Big conversions like Kanye’s surely won’t stop today, as he isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last. The question is, with the mighty army of servants that God has prepared in these last days plowing the fields and sowing the seeds, is the local church ready? Are we ready for the harvest God has for us at hand, or are we idly standing by waiting for rain, as the harvests pass us by? Let us not miss this opportunity due to closed-minded arrogance in our legalistic and selfish ways, but embrace what God is doing even in the most corrupt corners of our society. Isn’t that just like Jesus? From the penthouse to the whore house, God is doing a work in us!
Here are some archived videos from the previously recorded Sunday Services: