Tag Archives: Video

The God Who Sets Us Free From Slavery (video)

If you’ve been a little distant from God, longing to be part of a bigger story, or wishing for home, Moses can relate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the evil in the world or need someone to save you from yourself – this is for you. Let’s rediscover a loving, powerful God together!

If you enjoyed this, check out how I kicked off our church’s “Rediscovering God” theme talking about creation (here) and then the image of God (here) – or check out the next video on the law (here).


Holes: Freedom, finals week, and Good Friday (spoken word video)

What do you get when you cross finals week with Holy Week? I wrote this spoken word piece around the end of the semester in college and performed it at a gospel party and an event raising awareness about modern-day slavery. In cultures where our importance is measured by how busy we are, we need to remember what my friend likes to say: “Don’t kill yourself over this. Jesus already died.” Here’s the full poem:

Holes

“We’re not competitive at this school. We care about our grades as our personal best.”
– Tour Guide

“Don’t even complain to me, girl. I haven’t written one word of my capstone yet. You think you’re busy? You ain’t got nothin’ on me.”
– Student

This is King of the Mountain backward,
we climb the social ladder by
digging ourselves the furthest into the depths of despair,
crown you,
King of the Pit.

But if you keep your head above
grounded
level
we will shame you
back to our level.

Until there is no one left
with two feet on the ground
to pull us out.

Hole-ier than thou
tunnel vision
creates division
everyone’s doing their own
drills
down, not across
filled with cross words
when we cross paths
we’re not even building subways,
just potholes.

If we
pull our heads out of the sand
wash our hands –
will we find it is a dirty trick,
are we in too deep now?

Stress
got us into this mess
pit power
overpowers
now
is it over?

Piles of sand
miles high
immobile mountain ranges
double the range
between us and the sun.

Just as we drag the last rescuer down
we find
we are our own gravediggers
slaving away for
the King of the Pit
we have buried them with us.

Somebody
better bloody
save us,
or God is dead.

Crown him
King of the Jews
thorny, poke fun.

Dead God:
some bloody
body
in the grave
with us.

My God, my God,
why have you
forsaken us?

Cry harkens
sky darkens,
earth quakes
faith shakes
the mountains.

Mountains fall into seas.
Sun enters pit, we see
the light
rays
fill weak with strength
holes empty
raised
from dead
holy week:

Grave robber
shames shame
stoops to our level
makes the high places low
builds a holy highway
through the Word on the cross.

Crown him
with life,
“King of kings”

God with us
blood and body
gave
calm trust and rest
saves
from stress
frees slaves
from power of pit.

But we’ll have none of it.
Give me a shovel.
I got myself into this mess,
I’ll dig myself out.

 


Grace over grit in New Year’s goals (lyric video)

Anyone who knows me knows I can take my goals too seriously and end up being hard on myself. Sometimes my (our?) desires for self-improvement – whether New Year’s Resolutions or spiritual effort – are more about relying on human grit than God. This year, as part of participating in God forming me, I’d like to share tunes I’ve made up over the years to help me memorize Scripture verses, spiritual poems, and prayers. I believe that what we put into our minds and hearts molds our character. Besides, what better (and more fun) way to grow than by getting songs stuck in your head? But I want to allow myself to do it imperfectly. I want to give myself grace if they are visually plain, not posted as regularly as I’d like, and just my voice singing into a phone. Still, I trust that just singing or listening to these words of life will engrain them into our lives and change us more than our own efforts can. This prayer seemed like the perfect one to begin with:


Living well (music video & chords)

During a stressful season, God reminded me that all my commitments were things I was passionate about and called to: I was “living the dream”. While praying, these lyrics came to me. I began drawing on the living water during that season, daily listing what I was grateful for and singing this song. Instead of a scarcity mindset, I began noticing abundance and relying on Jesus’ strength instead of my own.

When you’re in a hostile climate, alone and overwhelmed, let this song remind you to draw on your source of life. Then you will bloom in surprising places!

You can find lyrics and chords here.


Human (spoken word video)

Sexual harrassment threatens to make us beasts and objects, but we’re human. I share my journey of healing and forgiving. Performed live at Slam Africa.


Someone to come home to (spoken word video)

A third culture kid dreams of finding a soul mate who understands where she comes from, but realizes there’s only one ultimate home. Performed live at Poetry Spot Kenya.


Unthinkable: spoken word for Good Friday

This Good Friday, join me in meditating on the unthinkable humiliation God endured to reconcile with humanity. Listen to the spoken word and watch the lyric video:

Click here to watch it on YouTube. Here is the full poem to read more slowly:

Unthinkable

True Israel wrestled with God
drinking judgment upon himself.
Defeated the devil in the garden
resolving to ascend to the throne
by a thorny coronation.

Soldiers arrested
the Commander of heaven’s armies
who healed the enemy’s slashed ear
even now, “Let him hear.”

The Friend of sinners
friendless.

The teachers of the law
condemned one greater than Moses.
The high priest charged
God
with blasphemy.

The Lord submitted silently to torture.
Do not the miracles and the scrolls speak loud enough
of who I AM?
If these clashing counterfeits outweigh
divine dreams,
my testimony, the voice from heaven, and the dove…
what is truth?

The powerful washed their feet
the powerless washed his hands of it.

The Almighty accepted help
inviting someone to carry his cross
and follow him
for real.

The carpenter’s son
nailed to the wood
arms stretched wide
in a willing embrace.

Lamb born in a stable
no bone broke
spotless became sin
righteousness became curse.

Stripped –
the one whose robes filled the temple.
“Don’t tear the underwear”
while the holy curtain ripped.

Jesus’ manhood uncovered for all to see
the shame of Adam on a leafless tree
at the crossroads of all time.

Again refused an angel rescue team
to gain the kingdom.
Would save everyone,
save himself.

The guilty condemned the Judge
the Convict issued a royal pardon.
Eternal Life
flanked by murderers.

“I thirst,”
said the well of Living Water
and sipped at cheap wine.
They pierced his side
the wineskin burst forth
water and blood
our passage into his new life.
The bread of heaven
sliced to nourish our bodies.
L’chayim.

He whose breath
animated clay with spirit
gasped for oxygen
limbs throbbing to lift his lungs
committed his spirit
with his last breath.

The Author finished.
The Light of the world
went out at midday.
The earth shuddered
at thought of receiving its Maker
dust to dust.
Grave’s guards fled their posts
as holiness entered Hades
tied up the strong man
and plundered his looted lair.
Jailbreak.
Jesus loved us to hell and back.

The eternal loving union
of the universe
endured agonizing separation.
To reunite with his creation,
God was godforsaken.


Thanks be to God: Lyrics, video, and theology


I wrote a worship song and recorded it in a jam session here on YouTube.

Lyrics:

Took the lead to map my own course
until I got lost
Sold my soul and bought a kingdom
was it worth the cost?

Broke and broken
Chasing the wind
Please show me the Way

Chorus:

Thanks be to God!
Thanks be to God!
We were against him
but he was for us.

Thanks be to God!
Thanks be to God!
When we were done for
he did it for us.

Tried to root out lust and anger
they sprung up like weeds
Kept competing with my neighbor
what was wrong with me?

Sin enslaved me
Death destroyed me
Set this rebel free

Chorus

Covered up my shame by hiding
in the dark alone
Tried to numb my pain but my heart
toughened to a stone

Fear degraded
Separated
Change me with your love

Chorus

Thought I had my act together
‘til I fell apart
I determined to do better
still I missed the mark

Law was heavy
Curse was deadly
Bring me back to life

Chorus

Bridge:

Part 1:
Thanks be to God!
Thanks be to God!
Thanks be to God!
Thanks be to God!

Part 2:
Perfect to save
Lamb that was slain
Up from the grave
Conquering king

Both parts together

Chorus

Theology behind the song:

I wrote this song to process the incredible truths I learned from Fleming Rutledge’s The Crucifixion. A key theme Rutledge emphasizes throughout her book is our need for God’s apocalyptic deliverance. She says that in the late Old Testament period, the prophets articulated a growing awareness of humanity’s inability to keep the law and the insufficiency of repentance. Instead, they felt a desperate need for deliverance that comes from beyond ourselves: an apocalyptic intervention. This song is intended to highlight our desperate need for God to intervene.

I organized the verse progression roughly around potential phases of Christian life. First we don’t want Christ’s lordship (verse 1). Then we accept it but struggle with our sin in our own strength (verse 2). We may give up, feel shame, and try to protect ourselves (verse 3). Or we may begin to trust in our own legalistic righteousness and feel proud (verse 4). Each verse ends with a call for help, much like the Psalms cry out for God to deliver them. The structure of this song, with the trouble of the singer, the cry for help, and the praise given to God for deliverance, fits the genre of the thanksgiving Psalm.

Verse one highlights our human desire for power and control over our lives, the kingdom of self. We are tempted to gain the world but lose our souls (Mark 8:36), just as Jesus was tempted to worship Satan to gain dominion of all the world’s kingdoms without the cross (Luke 4:5-8). Judas is an example of someone who sold his soul for monetary gain, only to realize the reward was not worth the cost (Matthew 27:3). We discover our leadership is inadequate, but then we have no resources to save our lost souls. We need Jesus, who is the Way (John 14:6).

Verse two describes how our sinful nature is not something we can overcome through making good choices, because as Rutledge mentions, Sin and Death are also Powers enslaving us. In Romans 7, Paul describes sin as “sprung” (Romans 7:9) and “What is wrong with me?” echoes his frustration in the same passage (7:24). I chose lust, anger, and envy/pride because these are common besetting sins even for Christians. Paul describes how Jesus sets us free to be slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:16).

Verse three focuses on broken relationships. It evokes how original sin separated Adam and Eve from each other and from God. Their nakedness symbolized their shame, which they attempted to deal with by hiding (Genesis 3:7-11). The result of broken relationships means fear and distrust. The Bible frequently mentions disobedience using the metaphor of hard hearts, and in Ezekiel 36:26-27 God promises to give his people new hearts that will obey his commands. I mixed this idea of hard hearts symbolizing disobedience with hard hearts symbolizing fear and emotional coldness. Disobedience, at its root, is an inability to love God and neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). So a lack of feeling can be linked to the biblical concept of hard hearts. I think sin and its consequence of broken relationships often connects to the emotional fallenness I see in today’s world. Though I am not in any way saying, for instance, that those who suffer depression as punishment for sin, I do think it is important to speak to the emotional pain that affects so many people and say this is not how God intended for us to live, but is a result of the Fall and Jesus will eventually restore us psychologically as well, even if it is not fully complete until the new creation.

Verse four describes the futility of trying to earn our own righteous standing before God through our works. Paul says that no one is made righteous according to their obedience to the law (Romans 3:10, 20). In her exposition of Romans, Rutledge describes how we are enslaved to the powers of sin and death, which have turned the law, intended for good, into a lethal club. She also describes the godlessness of the cross; that Jesus was in some sense separated from God because he became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and took the curse of the law upon himself (Galatians 3:13). In Romans 7, Paul depicts the resulting struggle the law evokes inside himself against the power of his sinful nature. He ends with describing how his body is subject to death (Romans 7:24), which I echoed in this verse’s cry for resurrection.

The chorus echoes Paul’s cry after his long exposition that points to the fact that we are delivered only through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:25). It refers to how God saved us when we were still his enemies (Romans 5:10) and if he is for us nothing can condemn us (Romans 8:31). It also refers explicitly to Christ’s work in finishing the work of our salvation (John 19:30, Ephesian 2:4-10).

The bridge combines the themes of Christus Victor and substitutionary atonement. As Rutledge argues, the way in which Jesus set us free from the Powers was by becoming the sacrifice for our sins. I deliberately combined the victim lamb with the victorious king to keep the strength within the context of suffering, avoiding the triumphalist view but still emphasizing spiritual warfare.


Radical Equality in Ephesians 5 (video)


Christians often quote biblical marriage advice in Ephesians 5, telling wives to submit to their husbands as the head, and husbands to love their wives. People misinterpret this passage to explain gender roles or even justify spousal abuse. But as I discovered while researching for my book Good News about Gender, this passage is actually a radical message of service and sacrifice. Watch the short infographic video here on YouTube!


The church in Africa deserves to be heard

IMG_0953

Africa Study Bible contributor Bishop Raphael Okeyo from Tanzania

I believe that the voice of the church in Africa deserves to be heard.

We don’t need imported sermon illustrations about “Prayer is not like a vending machine” – what’s a vending machine anyway?

We need stories from African pastors and teachers that give us a new perspective on familiar Bible passages. We need the story about trapping monkeys in the Kalahari desert. Monkeys know where water is found, but they want to keep the secret to themselves. So people catch a monkey and feed it salt until it becomes thirsty. Then they follow it to the water source. When we hear that Christians are called “the salt of the earth,” it can also mean that we lead people to the source of living water (Matthew 5:13).

Shigakogen_Yudanaka-Yaenkoen_2010_0824_Young_Monkey_Picks_up_rock_to_examine

Photo by Craig Shaw from ForestRescue

Pastors and teachers from 50 countries have written 2200 notes like the one I mentioned as part of the Africa Study Bible. On the page next to the Bible text, notes and essays connect Scripture to African contexts to help people live out their faith without rejecting their whole culture.

This is not your typical study Bible, written by about 50 American scholars. 345 people wrote notes, edited pieces and reviewed the theology and relevance of each piece.

These writers were dedicated. Some authors were dealing with civil war, persecution as Christians, malaria, or family funerals. All of them wrote alongside their normal work in churches, theological schools or businesses. Nearly all wrote in their second language – either English, French, Portuguese, Arabic or Swahili.

But as I managed the first half of the editorial process, I saw their commitment firsthand. They believed this was crucial work for God’s kingdom. As contributor Dr. Issiakia Coulibaly from West Africa Alliance Theological Seminary (FATEAC) said, “Like Philip explaining the Scriptures to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:31), so will the Africa Study Bible be to thousands and thousands of African Christians today.”

The writing is done, and the editing is nearly complete. The church in Africa is ready to speak – we just need to give them a platform.

If you want the voice of the church in Africa to be heard, this week is your chance! Invest here through Kickstarter. Your giving enables the writers to give everyone their “rich resource for the church in Africa and the world” (in the words of contributor Bishop Dr. Isaiah Majok Dau from South Sudan).

Then be salt and lead people to the water. The Africa Study Bible is published by Oasis International Ltd to satisfy Africa’s thirst for God’s Word. Would you join me in spreading the word about the Bible for the last 7 days of our fundraising campaign? Share this overview video on social media, email or in-person.

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Instead of me telling you any more about the Africa Study Bible, listen to a Kenyan World Christianity scholar. Dr. Wanjiru Maggie Gitau shares how the Africa Study Bible reflects the exciting things God is doing in Africa today. Or, check out this sneak peek of the book of Genesis, where the authors’ notes speak for themselves!

Let’s hear what the church in Africa has to say to us.