Urban Praise

Today marks the release date of Lyrical Theology, Vol. 2: Doxology by shai linne. This album is the second of a trilogy and was preceded by Lyrical Theology, Vol . 1: Theology.

From Lampmode Records

“LT2: Doxology is strongly influenced by the great hymns of the Christian faith, with blended worship styles that alternately bring to mind everything from Negro spirituals to golden-era Hip-hop. Expect a musically diversified sound as LT2: Doxology not only features rap, but hymns and songs of praise. Leah Smith, Chris Lee Cobbins, Brooks Ritter, and Joint Heirs are featured on the album, with most of the production handled by Wes Pendleton.

With the recent increase of churches being planted in urban contexts around America, the question has arisen: What songs will these churches sing? While there are plenty of options in contemporary gospel, CCM, etc., Shai believes that writers from Hip-hop culture have a unique role to play in producing contextualized worship songs that are equally useful in car systems and congregations on Sundays. LT2: Doxology is an offering in this regard.”

Purchase this album on itunes, amazon.com, or lampmode.com.

Here’s the video to the album’s first released song, Be Glorified (Psalm 55).

More to come…

Grace & Peace,


Way Back Wednesday: A Former Pharisee, A German Monk, and a Philadelphia Emcee

“I began to understand that “the justice of God” (Rom. 1:17) meant that justice by which the just man lives through God’s gift, namely by faith. This is what it means: the justice of God is revealed in the gospel, a passive justice with which the merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written: “He who through faith is just shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates.” ~ Martin Luther, Preface to the 1545 edition of Luther’s Latin writings.

How God justifies sinners and still remains holy (Ex. 34:6-7) is the heart of Christianity. To put it plainly – How can God forgive wickedness, yet not leave the guilty unpunished?

The answer to this question, the doctrine of justification, was the central issue that launched the Protestant Reformation in 1517 in Germany. By reading Psalms, Galatians and Romans, Luther was convinced that God justifies sinners by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solus christus). He, along with other reformers, believed that Scripture alone (sola scriptura) was the means by which people came to know and understand God and salvation, not through tradition, and that salvation was all by the sovereign grace of God, to whom all glory is due (soli deo gloria).

In 2005, Shai Linne released his debut album, the Solus Christus project (Lampmode Records). It featured the song, “Justified”, which gets to the essence of Christianity. When I first heard the song, my heart was so encouraged hearing ancient and eternal truth conveyed in such a modern poetic urban medium. Enjoy!

Grace & Peace,


Shai Linne is currently an artist on Lampmode Records and is set to release Lyrical Theology, Vol. 2 in the near future.

New City Catechism

Council members of The Gospel Coalition and pastors of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Manhattan, NY) have collaborated to form the New City Catechism.  But you might find yourself asking:

What is catechism? What is catechesis? What does it mean to catechize?

cat·e·chize [kat-i-kahyz]: to instruct orally by means of questions and answers, especially in Christian doctrine.

What is the benefit of catechizing?

What’s been the historical use of catechisms?

To find out the answers to these questions and more,  visit New City Catechism.

What Does the Law of God Require of Us?

Lyrical Ecclesiology

If you’ve followed hip-hop to some degree, you will remember “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. This single, released in 1982, was the first rap song to go platinum and it did so in about a month. Remember the hook,“Don’t push me ‘cuz I’m close to the edge. I’m tryin’ not to lose my head. It’s like a jungle; sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under”?

What was unique about this song is that, though in its infancy, hip-hop was being used to call awareness to depravity and its pervasive effect on social structures.  Quickly, America saw that hip-hop was not only about  juvenile rebellion, but a platform to voice concerns about serious issues.

It is still being used that way, only this time it’s being used to address some all too important truths concerning the Christian faith, particularly the ecclesiological aspects or the study of the church. For some, church is nothing more than a chance to leverage business opportunities. For others, it is a place to widen social circles without any true desire to function as God’s redeemed community. Still others really don’t have a biblical understanding of what church or other essential truths of Christianity are.  Scripture tells us in Ephesians 3:10 that through the church, God makes His wisdom known!!! Selah !  Enter Lampmode Recordings and their latest release, The Church: Called & Collected to remind us of this unchanging truth.

Taking its cue from Mark Dever’s book, “What Is A Healthy Church?”, Lampmode and other artists address topics such as biblical theology, evangelism, church discipline, conversion and expositional preaching.

I highly encourage you to pick this album up at Lampmode Recordings or iTunes.

You never thought that hip hop would take it this far!

Grace & Peace,


Reforming our Ecclesiological Understanding

How many of you have heard people say, “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian” as an attempt to justify their lack of church attendance?  If you’re like me, you’ve heard that too many times that you care to remember. In a very limited sense, however, it’s true. Obviously we know regeneration and justification don’t require church attendance.  But church identification, attendance and participation is one tangible and visible fruit of genuine conversion.

You’re right. We don’t have to go to church to be Christians. We, Christians, are the church! We are the called out ones; the body of Christ. The church building (lifeless infrastructure) only exists as a result of the true church, God’s redeemed (a living organism), who are called to collectively demonstrate His glory in a very unique way.”

The church, God’s redeemed people, is a glorious entity!  Many theologians, I believe, have correctly assessed that America’s spirit of independence feeds the flesh and has warped the minds of many Christians producing a low, joyless and non-committal attitude toward the church.  It is imperative that we understand what the church truly is from God’s perspective, which I know by God’s grace will correct and transform negative thoughts about the church. Consider some of the biblical descriptives of the church. The church…


  • was an eternal plan of God (Eph. 3:1-6)

  • was purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28, Col. 1:20, Rev. 5:9)

  • is sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:14, 4:30)

  • is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27, Eph. 4:12, Col. 1:18, 3:15)

  • is the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim. 3:15)

  • is a royal priesthood and a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9)


Perhaps, one of the most humbling realities of the church is that it is meant to display the wisdom of God to the angelic realm. How glorious is this?!?! Listen to the inspired words of the Apostle Paul.

6This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,… (Ephesians 3:6-11)

The church is a living & eternal apologetic of the multifaceted redemptive grace of God!!  The visible church is the fruit of the gospel!  The angelic realm is being taught more about God through the redemption of rebels.  The heavenly angels, experientially, know nothing about redeeming grace. The fallen angels are reminded of their defeat.  Remember, the angels longed to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:12)  When the church is functioning as it should, we are displaying the wisdom and glory of God and that Jesus didn’t die in vain.

May we consider our calling!

Coming June 8, 2010 – The Church: Called & Collected from Lampmode Recordings. Check out the promo video featuring Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church & IX Marks Ministries.

Recovering the Gospel….in the Black Church

I remember a conversation that I had with a friend shortly after I got saved and started serving at my former church. I had begun serving in the youth ministry that culturally didn’t look anything like me. I had my concerns initially, but those quickly subsided when I pondered the reality of the gospel and got to know those kids, who accepted me unconditionally. I treasure those days and lasting relationships. My friend said, “Dave, how come you don’t do youth ministry at a black church? You could be so useful there because they would be able to see a young black man who loves the Lord. You could be a role model.” Perhaps, from his perspective, I appeared to be some sort of sellout. My primary defense then, which would be appropriate now, was that I was serving at the church I attended. Seems simple enough, right? Being as astute as you are, I bet you guessed that his next question was, “Why don’t you go to a black church?”  Even as a relatively new believer sitting under expository teaching, I knew that I couldn’t get that in the black church. Yes, I said it.

I grew up attending an all black Baptist church in southwest Houston and as I recollect there was a lot of tradition, I did hear the gospel proclaimed, but I didn’t see the implications of the gospel. “Big Mama” falling out in the aisle, smiling deacons, great choir, Cadillacs, church hats, chicken dinners, and Sunday school is about all I remember from those days. It was definitely social and as a young boy, I couldn’t figure out why only black people went to my church. I lived in a very multicultural neighborhood, went to school and played Little League with the children from my neighborhood. Church was vastly different and I really didn’t care for it too much.

So why didn’t I gravitate toward a black church after my conversion? Or why didn’t I try to find one after some time?  The overarching reason was that I was not going to sacrifice sound doctrine for cultural comforts.

I’d rather sit under sound doctrine among people of a different ethnic composure, than sit under a deficient gospel among my own ethnicity. The gospel trumps ethnocentrism and cultural comforts.

However, I must be fair.  All doctrinally deficient chuches aren’t black churches and all black churches are not doctrinally deficient. There is a remnant, but generally speaking, we need a return to the biblical gospel and a turn from one of the fruits of a racially divided nation.  That fruit is Black Liberation Theology (BLT).  It is the dangerous fruit of a racially charged era that prohibited blacks from attending doctrinally sound seminaries, and instead attending liberal seminaries like Union Theological Seminary, Chicago Theological Seminary and Crozer Theological Seminary, later to be named Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.  In summary, BLT teaches that the gospel is that God will deliver blacks from white oppression and injustice.  Ironically, that “gospel” can’t be preached globally.  That “gospel” is comprehensively irrelevant in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Unfortunately, many black churches today are preaching a message of social liberation, rather than the liberation from sin through the atoning work of Christ. Liberation theology is a blasphemous distortion of the true gospel and we must contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Contributing author to Glory Road, Anthony B. Bradley, visiting professor at King’s College New York, provides a clear analysis of Black Liberation Theology and the hope for those who may be held captive by it  in his new book Liberating Black Theology. I strongly recommend it!


Yes, Yes, Y’all…It Don’t Stop!

One of the most creative hip hop songs ever written , in my opinion, was “I Used To Love H.E.R.” by Common.

In the song, hip-hop is initially personified as a female of respectable character that Common met as a young boy and loved spending time with.

She was old school and I was just a shorty // Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me…..She was there for me and I was there for her // Pull out the chair for her, turn on the air for her and just cool out…Cool out and listen to her….

Like the cycle of life, interests and people change. This once highly respected female now had begun to stray from her foundation and began to frequent clubs and house parties. Then a sense of consciousness and afrocentrism became her schtick. As those phases passed, she begins to explore other interests.

“But then she broke to the West Coast and that was cool // Cuz it was around that time I went away to school // And I’m a man of understandin’, so why should I stand in her way? // She’d probably get her money in L.A. // She did stunts, got big pub but what was foul // She said that the pro-black was going out of style // She said Afrocentricity is of the past // Now she’s into R&B, Hip-House, bass and jazz….

Like all vulnerable people desperately trying to find their way, usually in one way or another they forsake their foundations, if one was ever present, they are commodified by shrewd opportunists.  Such was the case with “her”.

I might’ve failed to mention that this chick was creative // But once the man got to her, he altered her native // Told her if she got an image and gimmick she could make money // And she did it like a dummy // Now I see her in commercials, she’s universal // She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle….Stressing how hard core she really is // She was really the realest before she got into show biz….

But what’s interesting is Common vows to redeem her from her wayward ways and purify “her” for himself.  Looking at Common’s discography, I can’t say that he’s redeemed “her” as he claimed he would  because he too is part of the unredeemed culture of hip-hop. Interestingly, NY emcee, Nas, expressed his sentiments that hip hop is dead on his album by the same title in 2006. Surveying the culture, Nas voiced his frustrations that hip hop was meaningless and lacked substance.  I couldn’t agree more.  How many more songs need to be made about violence, sexual immorality, drug use/selling, materialism, or gettin’ crunk.  I think it’s very interesting when the secular culture can identify its own ailments. Essentially, Nas is looking for a resurrection of hip-hop.   There is only one fit for such a loving task and He’s already started the redemption of hip hop through His people. Common and Nas would do well to read the book of Hosea.

Historically, hip-hop has been adept at social commentary, but very rarely offering solutions to ills poetically communicated from its soapbox. If Common and Nas would do a bit more research, they would truly find an answer to what’s wrong with “her” and then write about “her” Rescuer.

However, God has seen fit to raise up His messengers of hope who have more to say about “her” and how “she’s” been redeemed.  It don’t stop!

Sho Baraka  feat. J.R.
“We Can Be More”
Lions & Liars
Reach Records
Dropping 3.30.10