Thursday, December 20, 2012

My King by S.M. Lockridge 1976, Detroit, MI (Rev. Dr. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge)

That's My King
By Reverend Doctor Shadrach Meshach "S.M." Lockridge
of Calvary Baptist Church (San Diego, California)
in Detroit, Michigan, 1976


My King was born King.

The Bible says he’s a seven-way king.
He's the King of the Jews.
He's the King of Israel.
He's the King of righteousness.
He's the King of the ages.
He's the King of Heaven.
He's the King of glory.
He's the King of kings,
And he is the Lord of lords.
Now that's my King.

Well....I wonder, do you know him?

Do you know him?

Don’t try to mislead me.

Do you know my King?

David said, "The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork."

My King is the only one of whom no means of measure can define his limitless love.

No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of his shoreless supply.

No barrier can hinder him from pouring out His blessings.

Well, well,

He's enduringly strong.
He's entirely sincere.
He's eternally steadfast.
He's immortally graceful.
He's imperially powerful.
He's impartially merciful.

That’s my King.

He's the greatest phenomenon that ever crossed the horizon of this world.

He's God's Son.
He's the sinner's Saviour.
He's the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands in the solitude of himself.
He's august.
He's unique.
He's unparalleled.
He's unprecedented.
He’s the loftiest idea in literature.
He's the highest personality in philosophy.
He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism.
He's the fundamental doctrine of true theology.
He’s the cardinal necessity for spiritual religion.

That’s my King.
He's the miracle of the age.
He's -- yes he is –
He is the superlative of everything good that you choose to call him.
Well, he-he-

He's the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.

He supplies strength for the weak.
He's available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and he saves.
He strengthens and sustains.
He guards and he guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleansed the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharges debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent,
And he beautifies the meek.

Do you know him?

Well, my King....He is the King!

He's the key of knowledge.
He's the wellspring of wisdom.
He's the doorway of deliverance.
He's the pathway of peace.
He's the roadway of righteousness.
He's the highway of holiness.
He's the gateway of glory.
He’s the master of the mighty.
He’s the captain of the conquerors.
He’s the head of the heroes.
He’s the leader of the legislators.
He’s the overseer of the overcomers.
He’s the governor of governors.
He’s the prince of princes.
He’s the King of kings
He’s the Lord of lords.

That’s my King!

Yeah! Yeah!

That’s my King!

My King, yeah!

His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.
His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy
And his burden is light.

I wish I could describe Him to you, but he's indescribable.

He's incomprehensible.
He's invincible.
He's irresistible.

I’m here to tell you,
The heaven of heavens cannot contain him,
Let alone a man explain him.

You can't get him out of your mind.
You can't get him off of your hands.
You can't outlive him
You can't live without him.

The Pharisees couldn't stand him.
But they found out they couldn't stop him.
Pilate couldn't find any fault in him.
The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn't kill him.
Death couldn't handle him
The grave couldn't hold him.
Yea!, That's my King. That's my King.

He always has been.
He always will be.

I’m talkin’ about…
He had no predecessor.
He’ll have no successor.
You can’t impeach him.
And he’s not going to resign.

That’s my King!

Yeah! Praise the Lord!

That’s my King!

Thine is the Kingdom
and the power
and the glory


All the power belongs to my King!

We talk about black power, and white power, and green power.
But it’s all God’s power.

Thine is the power
and the glory!

We try to get prestige and honour and glory for ourselves, but the glory, it’s all his.


Thine is the Kingdom
and the power
and the glory

and ever,
and ever,
and ever
-- How long is that?
and ever,
and ever,
and ever,
and ever.

And when you get through with all of the forevers,
Then amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On the Challenge of Scripture

I've heard skeptics suggest that challenging Christians with the parts of scripture that are hard to understand or reconcile should rock their faith.

I am convinced that challenging Christians to follow the parts of scripture that are the most plainly stated would have a far more devastating effect.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Encouragement for Pastors

Dear Pastor,
Grace and Peace to you.

2 Corinthians 4 (ESVUK)
 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practise cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke”, we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18  as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Romans 8:31-39 (ESVUK)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

 Isaiah 54:14-17 (ESVUK)
 14 In righteousness you shall be established;
    you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
    and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
15  If anyone stirs up strife,
    it is not from me;
whoever stirs up strife with you
    shall fall because of you.
16 Behold, I have created the smith
    who blows the fire of coals
    and produces a weapon for its purpose.
I have also created the ravager to destroy;
17     no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,
    and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgement.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord
     and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (ESVUK)
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Psalm 55:22 (ESVUK)
  Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 11:27-30 (ESVUK)
  27  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28  Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESVUK)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practise these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

2 Timothy 2:15 (ESVUK)
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESVUK)
 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
     his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Radical Christian - Titus 3

Read Titus 3

Titus 3:14 (ESV)
And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful.

No matter how controversial the early Christians were, no matter how many enemies they made because of their abstinence from temple worship, they still had a job to do, and it was urgent. The early Christian communities lived their just life outwardly. They gave generously to the shared purse, and used their resources to feed the poor. Acts says there were no poor among them. The radical generosity of the early communities was unheard of at the time. They grew quickly as many of the poor and marginalized came to them for aide. This was their testimony of the coming Kingdom. They preached a Saviour and Lord other than Caesar (who called himself by both titles), and showed the people that they could be provided for outside of the "Pax Romana".

The warning and command in this passage is to avoid controversies and arguments within the community. They had a purpose, to actively demonstrate the generous and just Kingdom. Arguments over minor points of doctrine would only serve to distract the community from its very important task, for which many were urgently needing them.

The radical generosity of the early church was to be distributed as universally as the gospel itself. Paul reminds Titus that they themselves were completely unworthy of the grace given by Jesus. God has been generous to them, though they were entirely corrupt. Therefore, our actions and generosity toward people are not bases on their worthiness or righteousness. We are agents of his divine unconditional love. We cannot judge. Freely we have received. Freely we give.

Titus 3:4-8 (ESV)
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

This generosity extends to the previous verses at the beginning of this chapter and the end of Titus 2. The Romans were persecuting the early Christians, often to the death. Many of them were enslaved by Rome. Paul himself was a political prisoner. They subverted the practices of Rome by refusing to worship the Caesar or sacrifice in the local temples. If anyone should deserve the hatred and rebellion of the early Christians, it was the government of Rome and the systems it represented. But Paul says that the generosity offered to us in forgiveness and redemption is to be offered by us freely to all.

Titus 3:1-2 (ESV)
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2  to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy towards all people.

Instead of open rebellion in the face of a contrary empire, they were to look for opportunities to do good works. They were to generously bless the authorities that sought to kill them. This instruction echoes Jesus words in Luke about loving our enemies.
Luke 6:27-31 (ESV)
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Many of the early Christians went to their grave at the hands of the agents of the empire they had refused to hate. This demonstrates the truly radical inclusion of the gospel. We who were enemies of God have been accepted. Therefore we will now live justly in an unjust world. We will live in unity in a world defined by self-interest. We will give generously to all without condition or reservation. We will love our enemies even to the death.

At the centre of it all is the gospel of Jesus, who sets us free and enables us to live the new world from the inside out.

Read Titus 3

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Christian Example - Titus 2 notes

Read Titus 2

Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Followers of Jesus live in a now-but-not-yet reality. We live in the hope of the Kingdom consummated, the return of Jesus (v13), when all will be put right in justice and love. The redemption he offers is for the benefit of the entire world (v11). It is a hope that includes subversion of the present authorities (v13). Titus 2:13 calls Jesus "God and Saviour", a title used to describe Caesar, who claimed to have "saved" the colonies by assimilating them into the Roman empire. Jesus followers have a new King, a new Lord, a new Saviour. The Kingdom of God is coming, and the empire and its authorities will crumble.

Still, we live in the reality of the order as it is now, what Titus 2:12 calls the present age. We are called to be a people "zealous for good works" (v14). In the original language and context, "good works" were the practices of radical generosity and community shared in the early Jesus community. Acts says there was no poor among them. We have a passion for justice. We live contrary to the corrupt patterns of the world as they are. However, the patterns of the world are still as they are, and in this present age, we must find how we can practically live as Kingdom citizens in the midst of the reality of empire.

The early Christians were watched closely by their Roman neighbours. The Christians were significantly separated from the Roman world politically and socially by their abstinence from the temple and the party scene. Temple sacrifice was an assumed practice in Ancient Rome. Keeping the regional gods happy was a civic duty, showing that you cared for the well-being of the community. To not sacrifice was a political act, and also highly suspicious. Drunken orgies were also a common practice, and the early Christians also stopped participating in these. For these to acts alone, they had gained a bad reputation amongst some of the mainstream Romans. Suspicions led to accusations of atheism (for not worshipping the gods), incest (because they called each other "brother" and "sister", and greeted each other with kisses), and cannibalism (because of misunderstandings surrounding communion, the Eucharist). For these reasons, the early communities were watched very closely by curious neighbours and enemies alike. They wanted to know what these people were about.

Titus 2:7-8 (ESV)
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Christians are ambassadors of the living Kingdom. The things we do and say reflect the nature of the Kingdom as it is and the Kingdom to come. By the Holy Spirit, we are "self-controlled" (v12), meaning we have within us the ability to govern our own passions, desires, and actions. We are not lawless (v14), but the law we follow is written on our hearts, not imposed by an outside authority. The Roman Empire's system was the true lawlessness, based on power and control held by the violent and corrupt few. The spirit of the empire filtered down to every citizen, each acting in the same self-interest and hedonism that led the powers to oppress them. Our lives seen by others should demonstrate the passion for justice this chapter describes, in the present age of empire as it is.

At the time this letter was written, fully one third of the population were slaves. The entire economy rested in the foundation of slavery. Romans lived in multi-generational family units, and they represented the building blocks of the empire's system. To live contrary to that system would be tantamount to a community in North America today trying to live entirely outside the country's system of capital, using no money for anything, ever. It was corrupt and unjust, but it was the reality in which the early Christians lived.

With such an understanding, the chapter gives practical advice for how to live in that present age, according to the empire's system, without compromise. Paul instructs the oldest matriarchs and patriarchs of the households to remain sober. The reputation of the oldest in the family units of ancient Rome was drunkenness that would lead to violence and control of the family. Not so for Christians. For every member of the family unit, Paul urges self-control. They were to be models of restraint and discipline, not because it was imposed upon them, but for honour to God. Slaves that would have been taught for the first time in the early Christian communities were not to use their faith as an excuse to rebel. Elsewhere in scripture are examples of slaves that are treated as free equals in the Christian community (particularly Philemon), but the principle in their relationship is to love and respect for the possibility of gaining an ally, rather than creating another enemy of the movement.

Christians and resisters today find themselves in a similar situation. We may believe that the overuse and abuse of fossil fuels is an injustice to the creation we were called to steward. Still, we live in a world that runs on oil and coal, and we must live within it even as we organize and act toward a world not dependent on oil. We may believe that the inequity of the wage system is unjust, and that an fully organized workforce is the only way workers will truly be paid what they are worth. Still, we must live and work within the world as it is. We do not have the choice to quit working, but we can organize toward a more just system even as we work in the system as it is.

Our hope is for a world that is just, loving, and good. Our lives lived now in the power of the Holy Spirit are a hint to those that watch us of how the world can be. Our lives lived in freedom and self-control witness to those that see us that the world can be different, is indeed different, and that the ideal and just world we speak of truly is coming.

Read Titus 2