Grace, ’tis a charming sound

1. Grace, ’tis a charming sound,Doddridge_P
Harmonious to mine ear;
Heaven with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.

2. Grace first contrived the way
To save rebellious man;
And all the steps that grace display
Which drew the wondrous plan.

3. Grace first inscribed my name
In God’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.

4. Grace led my roving feet
To tread the heavenly road;
And new supplies each hour I meet,
While pressing on to God.

5. Grace taught my soul to pray
And made mine eyes o’erflow;
’Twas grace which kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.

6. Grace all the work shall crown,
Through everlasting days;
It lays in heaven the topmost stone,
And well deserves the praise.

7. O let Thy grace inspire
My soul with strength divine
May all my powers to Thee aspire,
And all my days be Thine.

Philip Doddridge (1702-1751)

Living Words – Charles Colson (1931-2012)

ColsonGenuine Christianity is more than a relationship with Jesus, as expressed in personal piety, church attendance, Bible study, and works of charity. It is more than discipleship, more than believing a system of doctrines about God. Genuine Christianity is a way of seeing and comprehending all reality. It is a worldview.

The Gospel according to Hollywood


A theme of Salvation runs through several Hollywood movies. From Maleficent to Snow White and the Huntsman to Independence Day, there is a common story. In spite of the different plots and characters, one finds an unmistakable unifying theme which basically goes like this: Something is wrong with the world. It could be  a spell cast by a powerful witch, an alien invasion or a social condition. There simply is a defect in the way things are. At some point, a Saviour or Deliverer emerges. This could be a superhero, another powerful  (but good) creature, or a new technology. It meets the challenge, there is a battle, and the Hero wins.  Evil is defeated. Once more the beauty and goodness of the world is restored and man lives happily ever after.

This is probably oversimplified, but I think you get the gist. The theme is compelling. It reveals that deep awareness in the human heart that all is not as it should be. We observe the brokenness in homes and families, crime and violence in our cities, heartbreak and pain in relationships, greed and corruption in business and government. We sense  intuitively that it shouldn’t be this way. And so we long for deliverance, for change and, let’s face it, for Salvation.

Because the problem is seen as social, cultural  or environmental in nature, we often seek the change from the Government. We see them as issues that can be resolved through legislation. Bribery is wrong; control it by sentencing anyone convicted of it to 10 years in jail. What about robbery? A jail term of 6 years with hard labour. In other cases, the corruption is seen as a result of a particular individual’s influence. Maybe a king or an emperor. The solution? Change the leader. As a good and powerful king attains power, the fortunes of humanity are reversed and the world is saved.

The problem with the story as told by Hollywood is not that it is untrue. Far from it. So much of it is. The evil in the world is complex, with physical, cultural and environmental dimensions. And this sickness has been on for ages. Also, there is no doubt that leadership (good or bad)  is a significant factor in the course of human history. What would our world have been without people like Moses, King David, Charlemagne, Winston Churchill, or Martin Luther King Jr? Or who can ignore the negative impact that men like Hitler (Germany), Stalin (the USSR) and Idi Amin (Uganda) have had on their respective societies?

The problem with the Hollywood story is that it is incomplete and one-sided in its depictions. And because of its deficiency, it is inadequate as a story or worldview. Rarely does Hollywood consider man as a spiritual being who must maintain fellowship with His Maker. When it does portray man’s spiritual nature, it often incorporates  some form of nature worship or pantheistic worldview.

The defect we perceive in the world stems from the human heart. The Christian worldview holds that every human is at heart corrupt and sinful. This belief itself is derived from the Bible and is validated by our own experience. We can perceive unkind and unloving thoughts within ourselves. We sometimes make mean and cruel utterances. And we often act selfishly and arrogantly. These are not behaviours induced by our environment or forced upon us by society. They emerge from our very hearts and are reflections of a deformed nature. If this is the problem, therefore the solution must be to get that deformed nature corrected. And this is what the Christian worldview offers in the Gospel. God transforms our hearts through His Spirit, reconciling us to Himself through faith in Jesus. As many more people experience this change and allow it to alter their thinking and their lives, society is affected. Selfish husbands and fathers become loving and caring. Greedy employers and bosses are transformed into godly mentors and leaders. Corrupt government officials begin to use public funds properly in promoting the well-being of their constituents. In this way, society is gradually but truly changed, for it has been first renewed at the source.


lecraeI keep a distance from rap music. The reasons are pretty obvious: It tends to glorify violence, promote sexual immorality and idolize money and material possessions. As a whole it seems to promote a culture of pleasure seeking and immorality. However, the rhyme is an aspect I find interesting. There is this tingle of excitement I feel when two or more lines are made to rhyme.  Wouldn’t it be great to reform the genre such that we retain the good and reject the depraved in it? A generation of musicians have emerged doing exactly that, among which one of the most prominent is Lecrae Moore (popularly known as Lecrae).

Lecrae’s lyrics are deep, powerful and depict a Christian worldview – an unusual trait in his musical genre. His music is an example of what it means for Christians to transform cultural art forms. The prevalent mindset in the Church today is either withdrawal from culture or accommodation to a secular outlook, both of which fall short of the biblical mandate to take every thought captive and to seek mind renewal. In the midst of this unbiblical response to the world, Lecrae is a refreshing exception.

Lecrae was raised by his mother, went to church with his grandmother, but concluded that church was for old people. Early on he turned to drugs and women. He became notorious  for his lawless lifestyle and even earned himself a nickname –  ‘Crazy Crae’.

He  came to Christ through the influence of a group of Christians he met in school. According to him, those guys really looked different. They looked like him, dressed like him, and shared the same intellectual world with him, only that they were truly loving and caring. He had always believed Christians to be a dour, legalistic bunch, but here were a group of Christians who didn’t fit that label.  Gradually he came to believe in Christ and his life was forever changed.

The bio on his website describes him as ‘an artist that redefines mainstream popular culture. Thematically, one can find inspiration, faith and honesty in his music. This is an artist who has retained the art form while shaping it with a genuinely Christian content.’

Some lines from one of his songs, Don’t Waste Your Life, reflect this Christian outlook:

We’re created for Him
Outta the dust he made us for Him
Elects us and he saves us for Him
Jesus comes and he raises for Him
Magnify the Father why bother with something lesser
He made us so we could bless Him
To the world we confess Him
Resurrects Him
So I know I got life
Matter fact better man I know I got Christ
If you don’t see His ways in my days and nights
You can hit my brakes you can stop my life
Then I lost my rights
I lost my life
Forget the money cars and toss that ice
The cost is Christ
And they could never offer me anything on the planet that would cost that price.

He was interviewed on The Albert Mohler Program on 16th July 2009 where he expressed his views on the hip-hop genre. According to Lecrae, Hip-hop music came out of people who are economically and socially frustrated. And you can feel this rage in earlier artists within the genre. It developed as a means of expressing their frustration and disappointment.  Overtime, the music took on and people began to enjoy it. And then the money started pouring in. With this they began to celebrate and exalt the money in the music, thus giving rise to the exaltation of self and sensual pleasure in the genre.

The music itself is not the evil. Elements within it could be evil such as the exaltation of self and the promotion of immorality. However, certain aspects such as talking in iambic pentameter over beat, making words rhyme, are positive features that should be redeemed by Christians.

I hope his career inspires many more believers to bring their faith to bear on diverse sectors of modern life.


The Justice of God

The justice of God is an essential corrective to a sentimental notion of divine love. The God who loves us is a God too holy to behold sin, and who will not overlook iniquity. How then can he so freely pardon sin?

This is where the attribute of justice comes in: He punishes sin to the full in the person of his son, Jesus Christ,  so he might offer the widest and most generous pardon to mankind!

God’s justice secures his moral integrity. He does not passively allow evil deeds to be carried out with impunity. He beholds all our actions and will bring everything to judgement.

The  Justice of God is an aspect of his righteousness, which is described as

‘that perfection by which He maintains Himself as the Holy One over against every violation of His holiness. In virtue of it He maintains a moral government in the world and imposes a just law on man, rewarding obedience and punishing disobedience’

God is righteous. He is not a passive onlooker in the drama of human history. He oversees all that is being done, and will give out rewards or punishment accordingly.

The scripture speaks of this quality in Ps. 99:4; Isa. 33:22; Rom, 1:32.


Living Words – J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)

‘We look not for a continuation of spiritual conditions that now exist, but for an outburst of new power; we are seeking in particular to arouse youth from its present uncritical repetition of current phrases into some genuine examination of the basis of Machenlife; and we believe that Christianity flourishes not in the darkness, but in the light. A revival of the Christian religion, we believe, will deliver mankind from its present bondage, and like the great revival of the sixteenth century will bring liberty to mankind. Such a revival will be not the work of man but the work of the Spirit of God.’

Living Words – Abraham Kuyper (1837 – 1920)

kuyperIf the battle is to be fought with honour and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power. And this powerful life system is not to be invented nor formulated by ourselves, but is to be taken and applied as it presents itself in history. When thus taken, I found and confessed, and I still hold, that this manifestation of the Christian principle is given us in Calvinism. In Calvinism my heart has found rest. From Calvinism have I drawn the inspiration firmly and resolutely to take my stand in the thick of this great conflict of principles.