By Dr. Donald Whitchard
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. And as he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So, he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
- Acts 9:1-6 (NKJV)
“And I thank Christ Jesus our LORD who has enabled me because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man, but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
- I Timothy 1:12-15 (NKJV)
At the time of this writing, two of the leaders of the butchering, jihadist, fanatical and inhuman organization known as ISIS, which slaughtered thousands of Christians and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, were executed by our fighting forces on orders from President Trump. This scourge that the previous administration either ignored or downplayed while chaos raged, has become a shadow of its former self. The American media would have us believe that Trump had ordered the execution of a benevolent cleric, such is their twisted propaganda that nobody in their right mind believes. Members of Congress are playing the daily game of outrage for not being informed of the operation and are whining to any reporter who will hear their complaints. Never mind the fact that the President does not have to tell anyone anything if it is none of their business or could be leaked out and jeopardize lives in the process. I don’t want to know how the plans were designed or who would carry them out, as long as the objective of eliminating an enemy of our country was accomplished and I can feel somewhat safe when I go to bed at night.
The game for today is who can yell and gripe the most and get the prizes. It is occurring in politics far more than necessary. It’s poisoning our young people with the idea that socialism is the wave of the future, and we see groups of every shape, size, and cause fighting for our attention and donations lest we feel their wrath or boycott.
Heaven forbid we cause them to have “trigger warnings” that tell us that someone’s feelings will get hurt and that their emotions are what make the world turn in its orbit every day. In our quest for political correctness and perceived “equality” and “tolerance”, we now have a generation of grown men and women content to spend their days protesting who knows what, being content to live in their parent’s basement until they’re 30, texting and typing away on the web, getting angry and opinionated about things that are trivial and have as much social shelf life as knowing who won the Academy Award for best picture last year, or something even less relevant to the well-being of the country and its citizens. Issues like commitment, determination, individual courage, risk taking, having a moral compass, and the need to be responsible for others as well as yourself seem to make no sense or any inclination of looking past their feelings and see that there is a world that could be made somewhat better by their lives and talents.
It’s all too easy to be angry and distant from each other in regards to opinions, convictions, or belief. I have to admit that I often get into this mindset and wonder why people behave the way they do and say some of the ridiculous things that come from their mouths. It’s really simple. The people that are making the most noise in the world today are of the world and do not have a relationship through faith in Jesus Christ in most cases. We are getting our thoughts and reactions from people who have no idea of what faith in God is, or of the truths of Christianity and the person of Jesus Christ. They are essentially empty heads pouring their limited scope of reality into another empty head. That, unfortunately, seems to be the dominant narrative. Then, out of nowhere it seems, the LORD, in His mercy, gives us some news that helps us to realize that He does indeed have all things under His control and is still in the business of bringing the lost lambs back into the fold.
I am not a slave to following pop culture or its influences upon the nation for better or worse, and I long ago gave up trying to follow musical trends and singers, rappers, boy bands, or the latest hit on the radio or internet. Most of it is junk, and that includes the medium of rap music. The segments that I have heard by some so-called “artists” is nothing more than spitting in rhythm and shouting vulgarities every other line, often by some youngsters who have turned up their car speakers to a decibel level that causes buildings to shake and nerves to quiver. One of these rappers is Kanye West, who had written a book called, “The Book of Yeesus” where he claimed divinity or some such thing not that long ago, and was famous for marrying one of the Kardashian sisters or some other “reality” star on TV. I think Bruce Jenner is part of this family dynamic, and I’m not going to call him “Caitlyn”. He’s a man dressing up and acting like a woman. That’s a mental issue and a slap in God’s face by saying in essence that He made a mistake when he created Bruce as originally planned. I’m not backing down on this, and I don’t care if it offends anyone.
Apparently the big news is that Kanye has totally turned his life over to Jesus Christ and has made a new album entitled “Jesus is King”. His art and career are now seen as a ministry.
Mr. West has been on the late night talk show rounds in the past few days and has declared to hosts like Jimmy Kimmel and others that he is now a follower of Jesus Christ and he is going to live his life along that claim. He has gone to venues such as universities and proclaimed not just his faith, but is presenting to this generation the sordid facts about one political party that has relied on the support of African-Americans to stay in power while promising them welfare and housing plus other benefits. If you do your own research, you’ll find that President Lyndon B. Johnson, declared a “War on Poverty” shortly after he won the 1964 election riding on the coattails of the recent tragedy of the Kennedy assassination. Fifty-five years later, the poverty situation in America has not changed or really improved until recently with the reforms and programs of the present administration. Mr. West is telling those who will listen that the party they support has in reality kept them poor, dependent, and has destroyed the role of the father in the black community. He also presents the historical fact that the party of Abraham Lincoln is the one that freed the slaves and put into place the 15th Amendment that outlawed slavery once and for all in this nation.
There are journalists (for lack of a better term) who have ridiculed and mocked Mr. West’s political beliefs as well as his new faith, especially when he held a press conference telling everyone that he was going to rear his daughters as girls, and they would be taught manners, the Scriptures, and to dress modestly throughout their lifetimes. He said that he no longer wants to go out all night, but prefers being at home with his family and reading the Bible to them before bed. I watched a video of a worship service that he led on October 27th, where he took the choral arrangement of “Carmina Burina” and turned it into a praise song. I listened to the entire arrangement and I personally thought that it was a unique take on a secular choral piece. He has released some of his “Jesus is King” selections on You Tube. Rap is not my cup of tea, but his words on these recordings seem to reflect a genuine change of heart in someone who has really embraced the truths of Christ. The only other rap artist I’ve been familiar with is Lecrae, and only because he was featured on Billy Graham’s last special in 2015.
Now here is where I want to bring us back to a point that you may have picked up on if you’ve been familiar with the Apostle Paul’s journey with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. There is a lot of doubt and skepticism concerning Mr. West’s dramatic conversion and actions, with some believing it to be a publicity stunt, and some with attitudes of “wait and see”, and outright denial by some who somehow find it hard to comprehend that the Sovereign God can get a hold of someone in the entertainment industry and turn their lives around spiritually. I can understand the thinking in light of the defections of some “Christian” celebrities who made their fortune and fame with books and music, only to walk away from it all and declare their rank unbelief before the world who loves this kind of action and gives further proof to them in their own eyes that the claims of Jesus Christ are bogus. The evangelical world already has enough troubles without this sore spot being agitated by fake conversions and bad theology.
From what I’ve seen and read so far, and comments made by more mature believers on social media, it seems that Mr. West has a pastor who is a solid reformed Christian preacher who took a lot of time explaining the nature of sin, repentance, confession of sin, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ to him when he made his profession of faith and Kanye, in turn, assured the pastor that what was presented to him was what he embraced and believed. Kanye now tells his peers to not be sexually promiscuous, emphasizes the need for repentance, and is showing more fruit for the LORD than some believers who have been around much longer, and yet look down on his new walk. It looks like Kanye West is showing the results of genuine conversion and will need to be under sound doctrinal and biblical teaching as he matures in the faith. He will need our prayers along with his wife, Kim Kardashian, and his children. He may be the tool God uses to being about a move of righteousness in a place where it seems that the devil has had more sway in the last few decades.
I am a Facebook “friend” with the actor Harrison Ford, of whom I ‘m praying will come to Christ in light of the close calls he’s had with airplane crashes in the past few years. His post at the time of this writing reflected on how the Lord will someday give him eagle’s wings. I don’t know if he’s referring to a philosophical thought or if he’s realizing that he’s not getting any younger and one day he won’t wake up. Perhaps the LORD is pulling on his heart. I can only pray that it will happen. I’d like Indiana Jones to be with me and the brethren in the new heaven and the new earth. That would be the ultimate adventure. If he got saved like Kanye apparently has, who knows what God would do before He comes to get us? Hollyweird and the whole community there needs to repent and get right with God, but that’s an understatement.
Perhaps the LORD is working on hearts we thought were closed to His grace. Look at you when the Lord Jesus got a hold on you, and the reaction from your family, friends, and co-workers. You may have been the devil’s partying buddy and literally raising hell before the LORD saved you. I’m sure that your transformation was met with a lot of skepticism. Maybe you thought you were a “good” person until the Holy Spirit opened your eyes to the fact that no one is “good” in God’s sight until he has been transformed by the redeeming power of Jesus Christ (John 3:16; Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18; 5:6-11; 8:31-39). Read what the first generation of Christians said when Paul was transformed:
“Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” – Acts 9:20-22
I rejoice with Kanye if he has indeed had his life changed by Jesus Christ, and for those of you who go down the same road, becoming new creatures in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17), I want to welcome you into the family of God. The Damascus Road still needs to have a few more travelers. Amen? Let’s show them the directions while the time is still at hand.
Image Credit: Kanye West/David Shankbone
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.