The Era of the Popular

I was doing my devotion recently looking at Psalms and I came across Psalms 14 again. It’s probably the least liked of the Psalms in our contemporary world except for those who quote it to win arguments in apologetics. But what strikes me every time I read it is I have a bit of hesitation hearing the word of God call people foolish. It sounds like one of those things your mum says you shouldn’t say in public. I know it doesn’t refer to intellectual inadequacy as it goes for the heart, not the mind. It speaks of how our hearts inform our actions and way of life. I think it explains Genesis 3 and the world we live in perfectly and yet it still feels a bit weird. Why? I think it’s because that’s not a popular thing to say today.

You see we live in the era of popularity. What goes and who we follow is not necessarily based on what is right but what is popular. Our virtue is not right and decent but popular and acceptable depending on where we stand. Sometimes I see people fight and argue thinking they are defending what is right but in reality, they are defending what is popular or unpopular according to their school of thought. Yes, I should say unpopular ideas are also popular these days. Some people just like those guys who stand for what is unpopular.

The martyrs of the age are not those who say I cannot denounce the truth so help me God, but those ready to spill blood on the altar of popular ideas. The politicians we love and celebrate are not always the ones on the side of the truth but those who have chosen the popular side. The preacher who draws crowds to his channel says the things that itch the ears of popular culture. The one who rises to attack him can also earn themselves popularity because some people just don’t like going with the flow. In the end, truth is not what counts but choosing your crowd.

But the question we must ask is a personal one. We need to evaluate what we stand for and ask if we are victims or perpetrators in this war. If there are things that don’t sound right in my head is it because they are wrong or because the culture and the people I follow have made them seem wrong? If I hold to a certain truth and subscribe to a certain school of thought is it because it’s biblical or just what sells in my clan these days? If I hate a certain way of life and don’t want to listen to a particular way of thinking is it because they are just not popular to me? If I hold so strongly to a particular doctrine and expression of faith is it because it’s what’s popular within my denomination? Remember popular or unpopular shouldn’t be where I stop. We need to bring back the truth and the whole truth as the yardstick of our faith and way of life. I propose 2 things to start us off in this discussion:

Start by Evaluating your own School of Thought

We cannot just sit comfortably with a way of thinking because all our heroes stand there. If we are Christians we need to be even more careful with those men and women we hold in the highest regard. I’m not saying we don’t celebrate how God is working through them. But when it comes to questions of faith and how to live the word of God and the whole word should have the last say. I think if we did more reflection beyond what just goes we might hold our convictions with a bit of nuance, we might move camps in theological debates but most importantly we’ll have the right foundation for faith and life. We might also learn something from those we most disagree with. Here I don’t mean we always go for compromise but we should ask ourselves why we believe and live the way we do.

From the word, we learn that our faith is both a shared and personal faith. Certain schools of thought will be big on the personal and not the communal. This is where Jesus and his word are my personal business and I don’t care what others do. Such people might need to be reminded he’s also our Saviour. But on the other hand are those whose faith and religion are merely borrowed from others in their popular domain. They affirm everything their heroes stand for and would disagree with the word if their clan chose to. I want to suggest regardless of where we begin we should get to that point where the word, not just what seems popular and okay in our circle, should inform our faith and lifestyle more. The word will fix our blind spots and give us the right worldview which means sometimes we’ll disagree with our heroes if the word convinces us otherwise. I want to especially suggest that if the Bible holds things in tension we shouldn’t try to edit and fix that out because our heroes stand somewhere else. We might need to survey that tension a bit more. We may have to change our battle fronts for what the word says is non negotiable.

Don’t Be Quick to Dismiss Others

On the other hand, it’s possible to build our faith by always standing for the unpopular side. We might find ourselves always siding with the unpopular and seeking to correct others with our favourite portions of the Word. But that’s not how the Word works. Read well and applied, the word of God will teach us, train us, encourage us, build us, correct and rebuke us, see 2 Tim 3:16-17. All those things should be happening in the life of a believer without always leaning on one side to make us complete. And those things should be present in our ongoing interaction with fellow believers.

But if every time I come to the word I’m only thinking about how to influence others and only seeing one side of this then I’m probably just using the word to cement my school of thought. I won’t learn and grow if the Bible only tells me what I already stand for and what I think others are wrong about. I won’t build fellow believers if I only magnify what we disagree on. When I always come to the word and leave thinking how right I am then there’s something I’m missing. If I only think others should hear a particular passage perhaps pride has overcome me. And if the word only seems to leave me on my own island then I’m probably in too deep with my preferred clan. When I think that only I and my denomination has got things right then I might need the reminder that church universal and scattered is bigger than that.

Conclusion

I know I’m trying to unsettle waters here and leaving you with more questions than answers. It would be easier if I was more specific and I told you exactly what to do. But I think sometimes that’s the problem. Where we are used to being told what to believe and what to do without taking the time to own those beliefs and actions. Don’t get me wrong there’s a good place to firmly teach what to believe and how to act.

But I want to suggest that we need to evaluate our own beliefs and lifestyle not just on the basis of what goes in our popular culture but on what the word says. Wouldn’t it be great if we opened the Bible more than we do Ted talks and Tiktok on issues of faith and life? Wouldn’t we paint a better picture of Christianity to the world if we were more gracious when hearing from other believers and wanting to measure everything by the yardstick of the word? Wouldn’t we be better witnesses of the Gospel if the Bible and the whole Bible, not the popular or unpopular culture was our source of authority?

A Heart of Stone


I was a man with ears but I never listened
I saw what was before me yet I was still blind
I would wrestle with hard concepts but fail at his word
There was enough to convince me but I still wouldn’t believe
I wanted to believe but my heart kept me away


These days when I look at the sun I can’t believe it
Was it always there before me?
The great wonder of creation speaking of him
Everything around bowed to this master
Yet I lived like a blind man deaf to his voice


But my eyes were not the problem
My ears could hear and my brain comprehend
But my heart refused to accept the obvious
In the eyes of the world I was brilliant yet foolish at heart
That stony interior made me dead from inside


I was a hopeless case, a dead man walking
Though I fooled many with my knowledge
I couldn’t fool God or myself and yet I did fool myself
I thought I could get away with ignoring him
But I rejoice that he didn’t follow after my indifference


He rattled my nest of ignorance with his powerful word
He lit through my blind eyes with his mighty works
He spoke in my ear with his compelling voice
He gave me a new heart of flesh destroying my stony one
He breathed life to my brain so I could know him as he is


I would never understand the Gospel with that stony thing
I wouldn’t yield to God’s word with my dead conscience
But with this heart of flesh everything seems so clear
On this other side I want to obey and to please him
This heart of flesh longs for it’s maker


The Tragedy of Good Men

The power of the Gospel is clearly revealed when a man who lived an evil life turns around to follow Jesus. This is why we love apostle Paul’s story. We love hearing those kinds of testimonies that say I was a completely different person before I met Jesus. I was a drunkard, a murderer, a corrupt police officer, a prostitute, and a womanizer. These are the people we call in open-air meetings to show what the Gospel can do.

But what about those who were generally considered to be good people? Those of us who were good boys and girls? Was the Gospel less effective? I meet many people who find it hard to share their stories of conversion because it doesn’t seem as eventful. People already thought they were born again. I bet there are unbelieving friends in our lives who we have not shared the Gospel with because we can’t see what difference it’ll make. They are already good people and better than most Christians. We probably think God will reconsider them and be moved by their “goodness”. But is that right?

The Bible says All Men are Wicked

The Bible has a different view of such people. It still calls them sinners desperately in need of the Gospel. And not only them even the little innocent children we call angels. It says all men, and that means all men, are wicked, see Romans 3:10-12. That the hearts of unregenerate men manufacture evil even from the best of us, see Mark 7:20-23. Can you believe that? What’s wrong with the Bible? Do you mean the Mother Teresas of this world have not done enough to earn salvation? What about that guy who never hurt anyone and always provided for his family? That man who rescued many homeless children. That woman who served his family wholeheartedly while living with an abusive husband? She too won’t be reconsidered? She too is evil?

The truth is at first many people seem good when looking from a human perspective. The reason we struggle to share the story of that good fellow who became a Christian is that we don’t see his heart. We cannot see how he too should be classified with other wretched sinners. But if we did a moral scan of his heart we would see his self-centeredness, his pride, anger, evil thoughts, and pure hypocrisy. The problem is we value people by what they’ve done outwardly and judge them as good. We use the litmus test of our society not what God sees and says in his word. Because of this many cannot accept that God will send good people to hell. They might be convinced the corrupt politician deserves it but not the philanthropist who rejected the Gospel. Surely God cannot judge them the same way.

What about Good Christians?

It is worse when Christians believe this lie. When we think that now that we have believed especially after we were already good people we no longer need the Gospel. When we convince ourselves to be okay and only think of the Gospel in light of the obviously wicked men out there. I’m always amazed at how lacking we can be in our self-awareness. Many people honestly don’t think they need the Gospel. But the man who cannot see how short they fall before the grace of God is a man who doesn’t know himself and doesn’t know God. It should be the case that as we read the word we see our own sin even more profoundly and the need for the Gospel more clearly. I think more Christians should come out of a Gospel sharing broken by their sin however small it seems to the public eye and overjoyed by the mercy of God who died to save sinners like us.

The tragedy of good men is that they are gods to themselves. They judge themselves and render themselves worthy in front of their own eyes. They are self-righteous men who don’t believe they need salvation. When the Gospel is preached they think about other men seeing that they don’t need such a desperate rescue. They prepare sermons for others, they do discipleship with others in mind and when the call to service comes they think you should speak to another as they are doing well already. If our Gospel sharing doesn’t have these people in mind in a country that is largely Christian then we’ll have missed the dark forest for the obvious bad tree. Good men need the Gospel like everyone else and we need to work even harder to show them this need.

Need for Self Introspection

In a world full of distractions and voices that tell us exactly what we need to hear it’s hard to do a regular self-evaluation of our lives, our motivations and the reality of the world within us. We can very easily come to believe in a better version of ourselves than we really are. The stories people tell us about ourselves especially if we are in positions of public ministry become the stories we believe about ourselves. Soon we start believing the lie that we have arrived, that God is lucky to have us on his side, and when we read the Bible we don’t hear the Spirit convicting us of our respectable sins. We become blind to who we are and what we need. We forget that we still have sin within us and the sanctifying Gospel is still our greatest need.

I pray that the day will never come when I outgrow my need for the Saviour and his Gospel message. I would rather I have too much Gospel, a constant reminder of my shortcomings than to fall on the pulpit of a good name. Can you imagine what a tragedy that would be? That my tomb reads here lies a good man only for my name to miss in the book of life? What a tragedy this will be? To build a profile with the world and yet miss the darkness of sin within. To stumble on respectable sins with the applause of public ministry. May the Lord help us because it’s very easy to miss this. May he quicken us to agree with John Newton that we are great sinners but Jesus is a great Saviour. Only then will we keep the word of God closer to our hearts and working in our lives not just being a tool for our ministry.

The Privilege of Adoption


I was afraid to be an adopted child
I feared I might not be loved as others
What’s worse? I have flaws I couldn’t change
I doubt I could prove my worth in his house
But he choose me with my flaws and made me his own


I feared I would soon let him down
And you know what? I was right
As soon as I settled in I forgot his rules
I broke them all and proved undeserving of his love
What amazed me is he drew me closer to himself in my weakness


He didn’t think I should be sent away
Although I think I would have kicked me out immediately
I didn’t help it either as I kept falling back to old habits
If he was a human Father I would be rotting in the dungeon
But not so with my heavenly Father, his love knows no limits


It causes me great displeasure to fail him
Not because I think he would kick me out
But because I would love to please and bear fruit for him
Great love should be repaid by great loyalty
But I’m afraid I have not yet attained this


Lord I pray that you’d conquer this heart
Though I belong to you, possess this heart completely
Make it your slave daily that I may please you always
I’m already yours but I would have everything in me be yours
Heavenly Father own my whole being and be alone my Lord


When a society goes to the dogs

It was disgusting to watch that incident at Forest road. The way that boda boda gang treated that lady goes against what’s human, what’s African and most importantly what’s Christian. That men can result to sexual harassment in response to accidental wrong is unthinkable. The video alone is enough to leave you traumatized, imagine what’s happening to that lady. Only the Lord can heal such a wound.

But while this incident should call for decisive action on the perpetrators I think we also need to do serious soul searching as a society. Where are we headed if one cannot walk safely on our roads? And it’s not just because of such violence, it’s literally hard to walk or drive on our roads with boda boda coming from every side with no regard to law or common decency. Where are we headed if hooliganism and gender based violence becomes order of the day? If the social fibre is broken then the hard law should be imposed lest sin imprisons us all as a country.

But we need to ask, who are these children we are bringing up with no respect for human dignity? Who are their role models? What are we passing on? Are we doing anything to counter negative influences? For a country that boasts Christian majority how come we have so little Christian semblance? Are we even a society or just accidental acquitances with no regard for the other person? If the Gospel doesn’t tell me to value the other person at least as I do myself what do I have? I think we need serious work to rebuild our society as Kenyans and especially as Christians. We seriously need the Gospel to work in our people and change one man at a time. If not now then for the future before it’s worse and out of our hands.

We also need to be careful with the seeds we are sowing today. With the comments we make and the divisions we are causing. If we’ll go to any lengths to pursue what we deem right with no regard to human law or dignity then we’ve lost any humanness in us. Worse if we are Christian and the only person that concerns us is ourselves and those in our gang then we’ve lost the faith. I think this incidence is but a tip of a society that has killed any sense of common good and interest of others. We are a society that celebrates self, idolizes our brand and will crush anyone who tries to come between us and our idols. It’s a shame that we even proudly share this in the public space. And when chicken come to roost we’ll not believe what we have become.

This incident made me ask some serious questions. I thought blaming boda boda guys isn’t enough though this a menace that demands immediate action. But I also think the problem is broader and one that involves all of us. For a son, a brother, cousin, husband, future father, neighbor and citizen I wondered what I’m I doing to pursue the good of others not just my own and those that concern me? Can people feel safe when they pass me by the road? How do I look at the opposite gender? What comments do I make and what signals do I send? For the many I walk with in the Christian faith, what values I’m I teaching and modelling? Is the Gospel of my confession true in my lifestyle? Unless we take this issue personally, see it right to its roots and commit to change one man at a time and society as a whole, things will only get worse.

My prayer as a Christian is the Lord Jesus would comform me and the men among us to his nature. That like with him others would be safe and happy around us. May he remake us like the Philippians 2 model man who seeks not his own interests first but those of others even at his own expense. May he kill the sense of pride that says I’m right and my rights come first. May he help us not only prioritise our burdens but carry those of others.

I have sought to end this in prayer because I know how sinful and selfish I am. Though I know what the Bible calls me to do, selfishness wouldn't let me. Until we die to self like he did we will always put ourselves first at the expense of others. Only the man who follows Jesus is safe to walk by. Only such men will raise children with true biblical values. Only such men will make a safe society for women and other men. And it is only that true and practical Gospel that can save us.

Burn the old Bridge


If we keep looking over our past
Imagining what would have been
Wondering if we are missing out
Longing for what this body craves
Soon we’ll forget the chains of the old slave master
We’ve got to burn that bridge so we never look back


If we keep playing with the fire
Entertaining that old man of sin
Feeding him when he beckons us
Calling it a small slip into old habits
Soon those habits will become our lives
We’ve got to kill that old man and do it daily


How easily we forget the pains of slavery
It fades in our minds and says it wasn’t that bad
There were good things in Egypt we tell ourselves
Looking back on that bridge life doesn’t look so bad
But we should have burnt it when we closed over
We should never make peace with the old man of sin


We will never see what awaits us if we keep looking back
If our gaze is on the old life the new one will fade away
We will make sin into an idol of worship
We will trade off our priceless salvation
But soon we’ll realise how mistaken we are
Burn that bridge down and turn your gaze ahead


Look to the one who freed you from slavery
Look at the peace and joy he gives you in him
See what fellowship we enjoy with him
Walk this new bridge of life everlasting
Walk the path that brings you closer to him
Let you attention be on what he says in his word


Lord help us to kill the love of sinning
Give us your love for righteousness
Cause us to use our energy and time for you
To build bridges for the kingdom that lasts
To demolish ties with Satan and the world
And walk the narrow path that leads to life


Put your chains on me


Lord I have fought you since I came to this earth
Like a restless beast I’ve desired to go my own way
Lured by the world and the desires of the flesh
Driven by the whims of the enemy I fought
But now I know my freedom is in your chains


I pray Lord that you’d hold me tightly on your grip
I no longer trust my freedom and clamour for it
Before I thought I knew what I wanted
I thought independence would be my freedom
But I’m never safe and free like when I’m with you
Put your chain on me and never let go


How strange that even now I try to escape
That after your liberation I desire to be enslaved again
I truly don’t know what is good for me
Left on my own I would totally ruin myself
Lord though I fight you still I would desire your rule


Give me the liberty of obedience to your word
Teach my heart the joy of submission to your will
Cause my heart to rejoice in your lordship
Let your will be done become the song of my heart
Not in words and songs only but in all I do


Put your chain on me and make me your slave
For though many desire liberty I have found mine in you
True liberty from self, this world, the flesh and the devil
I know I can only truly serve one master
So let that be you my Lord and Saviour Jesus
Put your chain around me and seal me as yours forever


The old man of Darkness


When I walked in darkness it was my imagination that led me
I saw things dimly but got used to this world of darkness
I heard others whisper around me and knew I wasn’t alone
We were in this together and somehow that brought comfort


So we walked trying to figure out the way
But the more we stayed shut in the more we got used to this
Soon we knew how to live without light
We had become like bats and were okay with that


You’d have been struck hearing us plan the future
We had forgotten our greatest need for light
And we were content figuring life on our own
I dare say we now hated the light and rejoiced in darkness


When the flashlight lit the room our eyes couldn’t bear it
We were used to the darkness, how were we to handle such light?
But more importantly how were we to live in this new world?
Before we knew what we wanted but now everything had changed


If he didn’t hold my hand I doubt I would have come out
Many are those who chose to shut their eyes ignoring the light
So often I find myself going back to that habit
Choosing the darkness instead of his marvelous light


Now I am a child of the light but I live in a world of darkness
Lord if you didn’t hold my hand I would quickly shut my eyes
Teach my heart to love the light of the Gospel
To walk this new life with the torch of your Word


Hold my hand Lord for my heart is prone to wander and hide
The old man of darkness keeps knocking at my door
I would have him totally destroyed yet he seems to resurrect daily
Grant me the grace and strength to also kill him daily


I long for that day when the darkness will be no more
When my eyes will close and never see that old man again
I crave for the world above where your light rules the day
Lord, keep my gaze on that day when I see your light forever


Kill all my evil loves Lord!


You cannot truly love someone if other loves exists
Ours is not a truly generous heart but a selfish one
It says I can love all these and still love you
But true love sacrifices other loves for the one love
And none loves God truly who still holds on to his idols


Lord I seek that I would love you above everything
To love you more than the loves of this heart
But so often I hear the lie within saying I can do it all
That I can have you, my comfort, my sin and my idols
The loves of my heart won’t die easily and yet they must


When I stay in the reading of your Word I see your great love
You who left heaven, your comfort and security for this heart
Yet she won’t leave her loves behind to fully embrace you
I need help Lord for my loves hold so tightly on me
They lie to me I can love them and still love you


There are days I find great conquest on this heart
Times I feel I have killed all the enemies of my soul
Those times I hate my loves and life itself
But soon I realize they were not dead but only asleep
Only you can help me to kill these dear loves of my heart


I give you full permission lord, kill these evil loves
Conquer this heart with your word that I may love you truly
To love you not only with my lips but my heart and deeds
Make the loves of my heart the love of your commands
Give me a true love of you by killing all my other loves


Ours is the Life that Truly is life


As long as we are called to kill sin daily
To subject this body of sin to obedience
To go against the flow of this world
And wage war against the lies of Satan
Ours will always be a life of suffering


For to deny this man of sin won’t come easily
To reject the culture of our day won’t be welcome
The enemy of our souls won’t let us be
And doubt will easily creep in unnoticed
Yet ours is the assurance of the sons of God


It’ll be a battle that looks impossible to win
There will be days when we feel defeated
But we’ll rise to fight again and again
We’ll look foolish to deny our own cravings
But ours will be the true life of freedom


Ours is a hard calling, the call to wage war
Not with fellow man but within ourselves
To reject the ways of the natural man
To obey the Gospel and deny the inner man
But ours is the hope of everlasting life


Ours is the confidence to call God our father
The privilege to be God’s chosen people
To enjoy the freedom that only he can give
And to walk this earth with our Lord
Ours is the life that truly is life