Category Archives: conversion
This week Marc Lamont Hill of HuffPost Live interviewed rapper Ja Rule about life after a two-year prison sentence, his new movie, “I’m in Love with a Church Girl” and his newfound faith. Much of the hip hop community has been abuzz with the news of Ja’s faith. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s the full 19-minute segment.
00:50 Introduction to his new movie, “I’m in Love with a Church Girl”
02:00 Parallels between the movie’s main character and his own life
04:50 How he feels about his career right now?
05:40 Perspective on his prison experience
07:30 Talks about his new music projects
09:10 Relationship with 50 Cent and obligation to be a role model
12:10 Was he ahead of his time?
13:23 His new relationship with God
15:38 First impression of Hillsong Church (NYC)
18:20 What he teaches his sons and daughter as privileged children
When a young brother at the church asked if I’d seen the interview, I quietly suspected Ja Rule’s profession might be like a long line of incredible testimonies by celebrities looking to turn over a new leaf. I confess: I’m somewhat jaded by awards shows and interviews featuring artists whose work glamorizes sin while they claim to know God. From Al Green’s on-again-off-again relationship with R&B and gospel to Kanye West’s “I’m a Christian,” I find it difficult not to be skeptical.
But as I watched Hill’s interview with Ja Rule, I found a number of things working in my heart that …
I love this video testimony from Leonce Crump, Senior Pastor at Renovation Church in Atlanta, GA. It’s part of a series of testimonies they’re filming with persons at their church. Watch, pray, and enjoy!
Here’s another video from Ethan Seifred called “I’m a Hypocrite and Jesus Loves Me”:
I’m watching these videos and I’m thinking the evangelical world could use more public confession, profession, struggle and rejoicing like this!
Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If …
If we’re Christians, we’re not now what we once were. A great change has been wrought in our souls and our future. The apostle Paul captures it well:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
Which of the nouns describe your past? Most of them fit me: sexually immoral, idolater, adulterer, thief, greedy, drunkard, reviler, and swindler. I was not destined for the kingdom of God but for hell. “And such were some of you.”
I still marvel at God’s great grace and salvation. I marvel that I was that lost. I shudder when I remember that I was lost and I was confident I was right. “But….” The gospel and our evangelism is about that “But….” It’s the sweetest three letter word in the Bible. It turns the entire direction of a text and introduces a possibility so unlike the past or present it can sometimes hardly be believed. But God still interrupts people with “Buts….”
I was encouraged in my own evangelism by this account of a woman who was a thief and swindler. …
This past week I enjoyed a couple of really engaging and useful videos. The videos seem to be on wildly different topics: the Roman Catholic Church and homosexuality. But they did share one thing in common. They both discussed issues or people we’re told never change or shouldn’t change, but actually do.
In the first video, Robert Godfrey briefly reflects (7 minutes) on a recent article in Modern Reformation about the changes of the Roman Catholic Church over its history. Of course, one can’t be exhaustive in 7 minutes, but Godfrey clearly and succinctly refutes the notion that the RCC maintains an unbroken consistency from its beginning. Helpful.
In the second video (HT: JT), Marvin Olasky interviews Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, a wife, mom, former English professor at Syracuse and a former lesbian. Her recent book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, tells part of her story and provides some helpful insight into the gay and lesbian community. We don’t get many glimpses into the lives of persons with same-sex attraction, and Butterfield provides a look that shows us how possible change really is and how much work we need to do to be welcoming in the best sense.
I hope you’re helped and encouraged with these discussions.
Been cruising back through some of the testimonies of conversion we heard at T4G ’12. What a wonderful encouragement of God’s work in the lives of sinners! If you missed them, or if you need a reminder of the power of the gospel to convert sinners, here’s a taste from Mez McConnell:
You can hear a longer discussion of Mez’s life, testimony, and ministry in this 9Marks interview. Be encouraged! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation–and God is still saving!
If you’re interested in learning more about Mez’s ministry to the poorest neighborhoods in Scotland, check out the 20 Schemes initiative. You’ll be encouraged to pray for the Lord’s blessing on this work.
One of my favorite conferences each year is the 9Marks at Southeastern event. I love the warm family atmosphere of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus, the good natured ribbing between speakers, the laid back fellowship with those who attend, and most of all the opportunity to sit under the preached word of God. I’ve felt refreshed and enlivened every year of this conference!
This year’s conference theme was ‘conversion.’ Each of the speakers took a pass at some aspect of conversion from the scripture. The SEBTS staff were as quick as anyone I’ve seen at getting the videos posted. If you missed the conference or you’d like to revisit some of the talks, you can find them below.
I’m sometimes asked by people why we don’t do “altar calls” at our services. Like the people who ask the question, the churches in my personal background pretty much all practiced “altar calls” at the conclusion of a sermon or service. I’ve seen them done in very poor fashion, and I’ve seen some pastors be really clear about the gospel, repentance, faith, and the fact that “coming forward” does not save. I date my own conversion to the preaching of Exodus 32, which concluded with an altar call.
So, why don’t we practice “altar calls”? I don’t think the pastor who practices an “invitation” at the end of a sermon is in sin, but he may not be acting wisely either. This list of reasons, compiled by Pastor Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church, is a pretty good summation of some of my thinking (HT: Z).
1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the N.T.
2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology.
3. The altar call very easily confuses the physical act of “coming forward” with the spiritual act of “coming to Christ.” These two can happen simultaneously, but too often people believe that coming to Christ is going forward (and vice-versa).
4. The altar call can easily deceive people about the reality …
From Tom Martin of Covenant Life Church (HT: Josh Harris)
Reminded me of the opening verse of the hymn, “Love Lifted Me”:
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore
Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more
But the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Even though I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of the Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”–of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was show mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example to those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory forever and ever. (1 Tim. 1:13-17)
Do you ever wonder–even aloud or in writing–why you were shown mercy and made a guest at the Lord’s feast?
While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?”
I’ve recently finished reading Ian Murray’s biography The Life of Arthur W. Pink. I’ve not heard or read much about the life of A.W. Pink until reading this biography. I hadn’t realized that one good reason for that is that so little about his life is known at certain periods, and Pink himself left sparing biographical details. The biography combined some good detective work with a wonderful treatment of Pink’s sermons and writings in his periodical Studies in the Scripture. In the opening chapter, “A Spiritualist Becomes a Christian,” Murray recounts the early period of Pink’s life when he was dedicated to the occult and was fast becoming something of a star in the occult circuit. Pink had been raised in a Christian home with faithful Christian parents, but along with his two siblings rejected the faith as he grew. He began to devoutly practice Theosophy, an anti-Christian cult headquartered in Madras, india that promoted esoteric eastern ‘wisdom’ beliefs, denied the personality of God, claimed to unify all religions, and promoted communication with the spirits of the dead.
We can imagine the heartbreak Pink’s faithful Christian parents felt at seeing all their children wander from the Truth, and at seeing Pink wander into serious spiritual darkness. Murray tells the story of a father’s faithful prayers and witness to his erring son, and how a brief word hurriedly spoken turned Pink from idols to serve the true and living God. In Murray’s words:
The date when the Besant proposal [Pink had been …