Archives For Lyrical Reviews

Controversy seems to follow Gloria Muliro wherever she turns, like an unshakable stalker.

Gloria-Muliro-px

The latest has to do with her song, Follow You. The singer has been accused of stealing/plagiarizing/sampling (whichever term seems most appropriate), not only the words, but also the tune to the chorus/verse from Chris Tomlin’s song, I Will Follow You.

Now, people will throw out accusations all the time at celebrities. What matters is whether those accusations are true, reasonable, justifiable or simply unfounded. What makes Gloria Muliro’s case even more noteworthy is the fact that she responded, by denying all charges of stealing/sampling/plagiarizing the song [both consciously or sub-consciously].

She further added that the contentious lyrics were inspired by the Bible and any similarity with Chris Tomlin’s song is purely coincidental.

It is this denial that makes her case worth examining, especially if you’ve listened to the two songs. Here are the links to the two songs: Gloria Muliro and Chris Tomlin. Give them a listen before you proceed. The first 30 seconds should do it.

Now, a few details concerning the controversy:

FIRST, the words in the contentious verse in both songs are [almost] exactly the same. The only difference is that Chris Tomlin uses the word “when” instead of “where” in the second to last part of the verse [underlined]:

Muliro: “where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, where you move I’ll move I’ll move, I will follow you”

Tomlin: “where you go I’ll go, where you stay I’ll stay, when you move I’ll move, I will follow you”

SECONDLY, Gloria Muliro was recently interviewed by Buzz concerning the controversial song. This was her explanation for the apparent similarity between the songs:

Buzz: Okay, make us understand why you are accused of stealing the song ‘Follow You’ by American singer Chris Tomlin word by word.

Muliro: Let me make it very clear. My music is inspired by the Bible. The words in ‘Follow Me’ are in the book of Ruth 1:16. Check and you will see. If today I preach the sermon from John 3:16, that will not prevent somebody else to preach the same verse in Russia. We are all guided and inspired by the same Bible.

THIRDLY, if you’ve listened to the choruses in both songs, the tune is more or less the same. But I will leave that one up for the reader’s/listener’s determination. It could be that all songs sound the same to me. I’m a lyrics guy, after all  🙂

Anyway, my focus in bringing this controversy to light is not to determine whether Gloria Muliro did sample Chris Tomlin’s song (though I feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing). My major concern is in the way she responded to the accusations, considering her claim to be a Christian, and therefore expected to live (or at least speak) according to certain standards.

In the excerpt above, she told Buzz that the words in the song are in Ruth 1:16. This could be true. Ruth 1:16 says, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” However, the verse does not have the “where you move, I’ll move” part. I could be splitting hairs here, but it seems Gloria Muliro’s song has more in common with Chris Tomlin’s song than with the Bible (her alleged sole inspiration).

I have tried to give her the benefit of doubt. I have even considered what a friend suggested on Facebook, that this could be a case of Cryptomnesia (This is when “a forgotten memory returns without it being recognised as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a song, or a joke…” ) I was willing to grant that, but upon closer examination of the song, I realized that the similarities are too detailed to be merely incidental.

Some similarities in the internal message in both songs is striking. Yes, a person may sub-consciously sample a chorus and plagiarize a few lyrics, but is it possible for one to subconsciously translate those lyrics into Swahili? That seems a little bit hard to pull off.

In the first verse, Chris Tomlin says, “All your ways are good, All your ways are sure….” and in her first verse, Gloria Muliro says, “….Njia zako hakika (all your ways are good), Mambo yako sambamba (all your ways are sure)…” Maybe I am just cherry-picking lines to prove a point. So, let’s go all the way to the last verse and see what we can find there. In Chris Tomlin’s song, there are phrases such as, “…In you there’s joy, unending joy…” and in Gloria Muliro’s song, “…kuna upendo tele kwako (in you there’s unending joy), furaha kwako (in you there’s joy).” Is this still a coincidence inspired by the story of Ruth and Naomi? Maybe it is. Who knows? God works in mysterious ways.

But an even more important question is this, do you think those are sufficient reasons to make people think that Gloria stole/sampled Chris Tomlin’s song? I think they are. Gloria Muliro doesn’t seem to think so. When asked whether the accusations against her were unfounded, this was her disturbing response:

Buzz: So why would people think that you stole the song, in your opinion?

Muliro: People are just jealous of my success.

Dear Christian artistes, we are called to be above reproach. This does not necessarily mean that we will never fail or try to cover up our failures. It means that we should always be ready (and willing) to bring those failures to the cross. It doesn’t help anyone to keep holding onto our “righteousness” when it is clear before God and before men that there is reason and cause for repentance.

Christianity is not about never falling, it is about always rising up after the fall. Our faith is best displayed in our admission of our falleness (and in our proclamation of Christ’s sufficiency to forgive and raise us up again). No, the world will not be won by our outward cloaks of perfection and self-righteousness, it will be won by the display of our utter dependency, for therein lies the reality of the Gospel in our lives. We are all desperate beggars before God’s throne of grace.

It is my prayer that Gloria Muliro will come to the realization that Christian artistes are not saints misunderstood, but sinners forgiven.

Soli Deo Gloria

It happens all the time. You hear a given phrase over and over and you get used to it and you never notice anything odd or weird about it. And then one day it hits you. You may have even used the phrase in conversation, until this day when someone says it and you were a bit absent minded and then it really hits you. Suddenly it sounds so different. That’s what happened to me last evening.

I was attending SPA FEST, an annual dancing competition, to cheer a team called DICE. It is the team my friend Winnie (she has written a guest post here before) dances in. In one of the interludes, a guy came onto the stage to perform a rap song. I didn’t catch his name, and it was obvious not many people knew who he was. You could tell from the murmurs in the crowd as he climbed up onto the platform.

“I am an upcoming artiste,” he added after the name I didn’t catch.

That’s when it hit me. I have heard that phrase used hundreds of times and I bet I have even used it a couple of times when referring to people. But what does that phrase, “upcoming artiste” really mean?

L Jay Maasai was the new artiste of the year in the 2014 Groove Awards (Photo courtesy: tetemesha.com)

L Jay Maasai was the new artiste of the year in the 2014 Groove Awards (Photo courtesy: tetemesha.com)

The surface meaning seems obvious. An upcoming artiste is someone who has recently started singing or performing in public. An upcoming artiste often doesn’t have an album – yet – and he has recently started recording some songs – or not yet. An upcoming artiste is not famous. His name has not caught on and people still struggle to remember him whenever he comes onto the stage.

An upcoming artiste is not an established artiste. In other words, he is not that popular – yet. Most of them can barely move the crowd (although the guy I saw yesterday really worked us up). All that sounds obvious, until it hits you afresh like it did me last evening. Why the “up” in upcoming? In fact, why the “coming”? Does the phrase reveal a worldview that we often overlook, as Christians, but should actually be wary of?

I believe it does, in a way.

An “up-coming” artiste implies that the artiste is “rising” to a certain level and that he or she will one day “arrive”. This bothers me. Because whenever we say an artiste is “rising” whose ranking are we using? The truth is that we have bought into the vocabulary and therefore the worldview of the world. We are categorizing and ranking Christian artistes using worldly standards and we don’t even realize it.

In the world, it is the numbers that speak. In the world, we know an artiste has “arrived” by counting the number of songs and albums and sales he has made. In the world, we know an artiste has arrived by looking at how many followers he has on Twitter and the place he holds in the TV music show charts. In other words, in the world, the stats are counted, not weighed. 

Which leads to the inevitable question, whose standards are we living and “performing” by? The irony is that most of the “upcoming” artistes often begin with a message that is faithful and biblical in the early years of their musical “career”. But as they rise up the ranks and arrive, the message gets more shallow and their gospel becomes watered down and less explicit. By the time they are topping the charts, many are great performers with messages that can barely be distinguished from the other chart-topping “secular” artistes.

Just track the musical journey of many current “arrived” artistes. Check their stats and you will see the consistent rise. Now go back and check the content of their songs and you will see the consistent decline. It will make you wonder if what we need is up-coming artistes or “down-going” artistes.

I am not saying that this is the case with all artistes who gain popularity in their musical careers. There will always be the remnants and the faithful such as Eunice Njeri. The fine wines that only get better with age like Christina Shusho are worth their place in the charts. But these are exceptional because they are the exceptions. The rule is more worrying.

“[Christ] must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

For the fame of His name,

Cornell

Does God have a favorite type of music? many people, especially older people, are convinced God is into hymns. Others argue that God loves rock music, but leans more towards soft rock, you know, the Casting Crowns type of music. God is definitely into Hillsong. Surely, He must love the Gospel RnBs. We know He can’t love Hip Hop because, you know, (whispering) the demonic roots and all. Or maybe He is into reggae music…But seriously, though, does God have a favorite type of music?

rauka

Photo courtesy: spinlet.com

I think He does, and I know which album would be on top favorites if I sneaked a peek into His iTunes: Kanjii Mbugua’s Rauka album. Why do I say this? Because Kanjii’s album was good enough to make it into the Bible. Don’t believe me? Just open the Psalms, chapter 151 to be exact. Although all the 14 songs are written in Swahili with a few English lines sprinkled in one or two songs, Rauka is a masterful work of lyricism. But then again, Kanjii is gifted that way.

But what strikes me most is not the chords but the lyrics. I am not a music expert, and that is why I have always reviewed the lyrics of a song and left the musical production and arrangement to the experts. This is the first album I am reviewing on Alien Citizens. I usually review individual songs. I am reviewing it as an album because I am compelled to do justice to such a great work of worshipful art. Rauka is like a 14-page devotional book. You’ve probably already realised your Bible doesn’t have Psalm 151. Well, not anymore, because here are the 14 verses *:

1. Rauka (Rise up)

Rauka (rise up) speaks to the hopeless among us. The ones who have been branded poor, without cure, the constant failures. The song calls you to remember that Jesus did not forget you when He saved you. You may have recently received a dismissal notice at work and auctioneers are scrambling for your property, But remember Jesus did not forget you. So rise up, forget the past, what you have been through. RIse up, it’s a new day. “We thank you Father, we lift You up, we praise You. We receive You, King of kings.”

2. Ako nami (He is with me)

The second song sets a trend that I found distinctive and commendable in the rest of the album, Kanjii moves from just talking “about” God to talking “to” and “with” God. He moves from mere analysis of God’s nature to the actual worship and adoration of that nature. Ako nami (He is with me) reflects on God’s eternal strength, glory, Lordship and kindness. 

“You’re the rock on which I stand. You’re the one that never changes. In your arms I am secure. You’re protecting me. In your power I am mighty. Against all weapons formed against me, I shall not fear, I shall not fear.”

3. Karibu (Welcome)

Karibu (welcome) speaks of proclaiming the praises and attributes of God throughout the world. “All day long, I will confess You are holy, You name be lifted high, from every corner of this country, may all praise go to you Father.” And then Rigga reinforces the message with his rapping prowess; “Welcome Father, there’s no one like You, We welcome You King, Lion… Your Highness, we will make your praises heard… How will they know the King has arrived?”

4. Mfalme Mkuu

The most popular song in the album mainly because of the video that was released with the album. Mfalme Mkuu speaks of how Jesus saved us in the midst of our despair. “I had lost hope in life, I was to perish, fall, I was to be lost, but Jesus saved me… I was drowning, troubles all around me, I was in captivity, defeated, overwhelmed, but Jesus saved me… I am astounded, amazed, surprised, Your goodness has no measure, Your strength has no measure.”

5. Ebenezer

“He has said He won’t leave me until we reach the shore, He has said He has a good plan, a plan to give me hope. You are Lord of my life, and your promises are true. I will trust You, your promises are eternal… Let them say what they say, you are my Ebenezer, You guide me in life, there is no one else like You.”

6. Wewe Tu (Only You)

This song speaks of whom we should run to in our times of trouble: to God and not man. “In my pain, I cry out to my Lord. He is with me, I will not be afraid. I’d rather run to You than to man, I remember your love. Your Word is my hope. Your mercies never cease.” Kidum’s unmistakable voice spices the second verse and reinforces the same Psalm 22-like message: “Enemies surround me, I have no escape, but in Your name Lord, I am a victor…” But for You Lord, I would have perished in darkness. But for You Lord. Only You.

7. Mwanzo na Mwisho (Beginning and the End)

So far my favorite song in the album, “I thought I would perish, troubles overwhelmed me, in my depression I cried out to the Lord. He is my fortress, my hope, my rock of salvation… I will lift Him up, I will praise Him, He is the Savior, Alpha and Omega… Your name is Jehova, Lord, I ascribe to you all authority forever.”

8. Nitangoja (I Will Wait)

“It wasn’t long ago, I was drowning in issues, I longed for peace. Then I saw Your face, the One I depend on, You are my resting place. Even in my perplexion, when enemies surround me, I remember You will never leave me… I stand before You, surely You’re my shield. You’re teaching me, you’re my refuge, I will stand on Your Word.”

9. Nakuhitaji (I Need You)

“I don’t need to look for someone to care for me, love me. I don’t need to look for someone to make me happy, to satisfy me. There are no others, my soul thirsts for You. You are mine and I long for You… You’re the true vine. You provide everything I need. You are mine, I long for You.”

10. Juu Yangu (Upon me)

“I am poor, I have nothing to call my own. Like the birds of the air, you care for me. I am sure You hold my hand. You draw me to Your shadow… I know His hand upon me, I know His hand upon me… The ones I thought were my friends forsook me. But Your presence, Father, was over me. When my body wasted away with disease, You are Jehova Rapha, You healed me.”

And of course, the transposed lines towards the end are nothing short of heavenly: “Ooh, he has risen. No matter what I am going through. He has risen.”

11. Mwamba (Rock)

A mildly reggae tune with the talented Rigga sprinkled all over it: “I have come from far, seen a lot. Who cares for me? (My rock). They betrayed me, they mocked me. Who is my friend? (My rock)… I am not afraid of the floods, the rains or the winds. My foundation is in You, my rock, my rock… I will follow your Word, it is You I will depend You, Hide me.”

12. Wewe unami (You are with me)

More of a refrain than the usual verses and chorus, Wewe Unami (You are with me) is an affirmation of God’s constant and refreshing presence. It speaks of the cross as the bridge to life. “He walks with me, He holds my hand, His shadow surrounds me.” Pure, gospel-centered, worship.

13. Wewe (You

I think this is the song with the most frequent and explicit reference to Wewe (You), a psalmic chorus that addresses God and sounds almost private for its personal references: “You are my pillar, You are my refuge. You, You. You are my strength, You are my hope. You You…. In a dry land where there is no water. You are my Good. I seek. I seek. My soul longs for you. I thirst for you, I wait for you.”

14. Still Moving

The last song of the album is also the only fast-paced, party-feel song. It speaks of moving on and hoping and trusting despite circumstances that say otherwise. It is a song about rejoicing in lack and weakness. A song about praising in apparent hopelessness and despair. 

——

There you have it, a brief (long) overview of the whole album **. When I think about it, I am not so sure why I fell in love with this album. I mean, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the way the album is so explicit about God and His place in our lives. Maybe it’s the way every song stresses the weakness of man and the strength of God. Could it be the way each chord ties together the paradox of being happy in suffering, hopeful in bleakness, joyful in sadness? perhaps I love this album so much because it does not just remind me of my utter wretchedness and weakness, but it supplants this reality with God’s saving mercy and grace through Jesus Christ.

In other words, it is a Gospel album.

Written for the fame of His name.

~~~
Cornell

* The album is in Swahili so I have done my best to translate the lyrics.

** You can buy the album and pay via MPESA (and other online payment alternatives) through this link (just click on this sentence).

Sex sells. There is no doubt about that. Let a semi-nude (semi-naked?) woman pose next to a car and men will suddenly be interested. Ensure your TV show has some steamy scenes and a romantic (lusty) storyline or two involving the protagonist, and your audience will be hooked. Use a sexually tantalizing image to advertise an upcoming sermon on teen sexuality and the teenagers will show up in droves. Think HBO, MTV,Telemundo… you get the picture.

Sex sells. In a hypersexualized society, the easiest and fastest way to get people’s attention is to dress up your message (or at least wrap the package) in lingerie.

sauti sol

In a recent heated controversy over a poster used by Mavuno Church to attract teens to church, Pastor Muriithi Wanjau made a lot of sense while defending the move. Our teenagers live in a hypersexualized world. They see sex everywhere, they think about it most of the time, that is where they spend most of their time. And in order to get their attention, we have to go where they are. We have to reach out to them using images that make sense to them. Images that will hook and lure them in. And sex is one of the most powerful images.

A big part of the uproar that is now only a distant memory was that the church was succumbing to immoral means to achieving moral ends. The church was becoming like the world in order to win the world. The church was not only in the world, but it was rapidly becoming of the world. Defenders of the “blurred lines” approach were however equally strongly persuaded that this was not the case. The church was not actually promoting pornography or condoning illicit sex. On the contrary, those who did visit Mavuno church and listen to the advertised message confirmed that the church was still for moral uprightness, for chastity and for a sexuality guided and guarded by the Word of God.

The publicity was just that — publicity.

Both sides agreed to disagree. Continue Reading…

After topping the 2013 charts with his collabo with Mwenyehaki, Wanajua, Pitson started out 2014 by releasing another catchy tune in Lingala ya Yesu (The Lingala of Jesus). I may be three months late in reviewing the song, but the mark of a great song is its timelessness. The lyrics to Lingala ya Yesu are self-explanatory.

Here is a loose English translation of the lyrics:

VERSE 1

It’s been a while, and I haven’t sung Lingala to you Father,
I have been busy with Reggae and Ragga,
And The Blues sent me to sleep,
But I’m now awake, Father, and I’m singing Lingala
They told me in a good Lingala song it’s good to tie my belt high above my belly,
And for me to speak Lingala like “petit Lingala le eza moke”
They told me a good Lingala song must have a speaking part
(Spoken) “I am speaking, but I really have nothing to say”
I say that the Lingala of Jesus’ is not complicated
When you’re given the guitar chords x2
You just lift your hands and praise Jesus)

REFRAIN:
The Lingala of my Jesus saves
The Lingala of my Jesus blesses
The Lingala of my Jesus is not complicated
You simply praise x3 Jesus High

VERSE 2

Dear artiste, you don’t need to have piercings all over to be heard
No need for luxury cars for your videos to be hits
You don’t need to speak Lingala to get to Congo
And the dancers, their clothes too tight

REFRAIN

Yes, the song is self-explanatory. But what I find even more fascinating is that this is a song about music. More specifically — Christian music. We have all encountered the debates on what constitutes Christian or Gospel music. Some believe that there are genres in which Christian music should not reside — such as hip-hop. Others are persuaded that it is only the lyrics that matter, and any secular song can be borrowed and adapted and redeemed to make it more relevant. And others insist that a good Christian song must be a song that is designed to be sung in a congregation context, and not just performed on a stage in front of a passive audience.

The issues are diverse, but Pitson steals just 5 minutes and 14 seconds of this long-winded debate to drive home a simple point, what matters is that your music praises Jesus and blesses His people. In other words, a song is considered Christian not just because it is about Christ, but it is also for the glorification of Christ and the edification of the people. After all the debates about form and genre and style and context, is the gospel being preached? Is Jesus being praised?

The rest is details.

Thank you Pitson, for sneaking this one right in front of our eyes without coming off as polemic like some of us often do.

Lecrae Moore is the first rapper to win a Grammy for the Best Gospel Album of the Year, but not every Christian is celebrating. Perhaps the confusion in the audience at the Grammy Award ceremony as his win was announced was an allusion to a deeper tension among Christians at the time. Lecrae was outside the venue when his name was called out, and he therefore didn’t make it to give his acceptance speech. Not only did most people in the audience wonder who Lecrae is, but many never even got to find out!

church Clothes 2 Cover

Church Clothes 2

Anyway, the award was for the album “Gravity”, and that’s not even where the controversy is. I am talking about Church Clothes 1. The rapper got his fans and critics into a frenzy when he collaborated with a “secular” DJ Don Cannon. The predictable accusations of “compromising” his witness and playing to the “worldly” gallery gushed without restraint. The song “Church Clothes” was however the bane of Lecrae’s fans. In the song, Lecrae went hard against the rampant hypocrisy in the church. This is not news. But the problem is that Lecrae’s approach was so harsh, to the point of seeming as if he wasn’t part of the church he was bashing: Continue Reading…

beautyThe Word of God is alive. And one of the ways that this comes out clearly is in how new lessons are often caught from passages that you have read more than a dozen times and have never seen them before. I am tempted to think that this is also one of the evidences of the timelessness, and therefore the uniqueness, of the Word of God. I am not necessarily saying that we discover new truths from the traditional passage, but rather, we find old truths – truths clearly stated in other passages – being confirmed in this traditional passage.

The account of David’s anointing is one such passage. 1 Samuel 16:6-7

Samuel looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

This is a familiar passage. One that, I bet, you have quoted a dozen times. The passage is however often quoted in an attempt to downplay outward appearances, “looks” and other external marks of “perfection.” Sadly, the passage has been stretched to the extent of demonizing external appearances. In our attempts to preach the inclusion of the disabled and the disfigured in the society, we have used this passage to make it seem as if a wholesome body was inconsequential.

No wonder Plato’s body/spirit dichotomy became so popular in the first century Christianity. A popular group known as the “gnostics” perpetuated the teaching that the whole body was evil and only the spirit was good. This was actually “biblically” justified using verses such as Galatians 5:16-17

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

So, what is the danger in upholding this distorted view of God’s creation? We will end up demonizing what God approves; dismissing what God ordains as good, pleasing and praiseworthy. We end up having a low view of beauty, and as a result, a low view of God’s glory.  David tells us, in Psalm 19 that

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

Speaking of David, the revelation that stood out as I read his anointing passage for the umpteenth time was this: God does not create an antithesis between the HEART and the OUTWARD appearance. The passage DOES NOT say “God does not look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.” What the passage actually says is “the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

The difference is in HOW we look, not in WHAT is seen. The antithesis is between what God looks at as the basis for His choice, and what men look at as the basis for their choices. God looks at the heart, man looks at the outward appearance.

The lesson here is clear (or, at least it ought to be): outward appearances, or “looks” are important to God. Looks matter. But they are differently important. They are secondary, but not irrelevant.

Looks point to something, they are not the REAL thing. The heavens DECLARE the glory of God; the heavens are not the glory of God. We don’t worship the heavens. The outward appearances are only indicators, pointers, pictures… not the definitive thing.

No wonder, a few verses later in the 1 Samuel account, David finally shows up and the Bible records this about him:

He was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” (1 Samuel 16:12)

If one was to read this verse without the earlier information in verse 7, we could easily assume that David was chosen on the basis of his looks. In fact, if verse 7 wasn’t there, I bet we would currently have two denominations divided over the interpretation of verse 12.

So, we cannot dismiss the fact that David was handsome. We cannot say that God does not look at the outward appearance. The only freedom we have, from reading this passage, is that God looks at the outward appearance differently. Not the way we do.

David was a handsome man. His beauty was not an irrelevant detail thrown into the passage. It pointed to a greater beauty. The beauty of his heart. And his heart’s beauty pointed to an even greater beauty; the beauty of the heart’s creator. God’s beauty.

Could such an attitude permeate our attitude towards Christian art?

Could we learn not to tolerate bad Christian art (read Christian music) “just because” the message is orthodox and biblical?

Yes, we are to aim for more than outward looks. But this is not a license to settle for bad looks.

For the fame of His name,

Cornell

Note: My reference to the disabled and the disfigured above should not be misconstrued as implying that a person’s heart is necessarily evil because of their outward appearance. I am well aware that these are the effects of the fall, and are in no way indicative of one’s standing before God. If anything, we are all Differently Disabled.

It’s been awhile since I last posted links to great reads to enrich your minds and hearts. I apologize, busy days. Well, here are a few that I just couldn’t keep to myself. Enjoy:

  1. ON WHALES AND WORSHIP LYRICS  Jen Wilkin tackles a subject I have been thinking a lot about lately; music and entertainment in the church. Her article also sheds light on the basis of my Lyrical Reviews series: “We live in a time when music, church or otherwise, serves our personal taste, and where lyrics are often an afterthought … A worship song is “anointed” if it moves us deeply, whether the words communicate anything coherent or not..
  2. A REVIEW WITH A TWIST  This is an interesting review of the book “Zealot” by Reza Aslan … “You know what? Yeah, this guy, Aslan, is a pretty slick writer. But I’ve heard it all before. There’s nothing new under the sun. Some things are just too complex for humanity to wrap their wee little minds around. Take Jesus, for example.” 
  3. IN PRAISE OF THE LOW-MINDED CHRISTIAN I enjoyed reading this: “I’m talking about the low-minded Christian. Everybody knows one. Or two. They send you chain blessing emails. (Send this back to me and 5 other people, or you’re a mean pud who doesn’t like God) … They probably believe the earth is 6,000 years old. They’re Christians primarily because they don’t want to go to hell. They want to go to heaven primarily to see their grandma.”
  4. ARIEL CASTRO’S PORN ADDICTION James Conley: “Ariel Castro belongs in prison. Last week, he was sentenced to serve more than one thousand years. But despite the depths of his depravity, when Castro stood shackled in a Cleveland courtroom, he confessed a common American problem. “I believe I am addicted to porn,” he said, “to the point where I am impulsive, and I just don’t realize that what I am doing is wrong.”” As a supporting read, I found this article on The Independent quite interesting, on Castro’s sentencing.
  5. “WHO AM I TO JUDGE?” WHAT THE POPE REALLY SAID Al Mohler: The key sentence in the Pope’s remarks is this: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?”” The papal remarks put the international press into a frenzy. But what did the pope really say/mean?

That ought to do it for the week. Have a blessed read.

Cornell.

Music, like food, can be enjoyable. But that’s not its primary purpose. The “entertainment” aspect is a secondary and incidental outcome, not to be pursued as an end in itself. This does not mean that the entertaining effect of music is unnecessary, just as the taste of food is not unnecessary. The problem lies in our finite need to understand things in limited and distinct categories.

I don’t think we ought to classify something that happens to be “entertaining” as “Entertainment” because that would be establishing the identity of something by what it does rather than by what it is.

By definition, I am not a writer, I am a human being who writes. I am not a blogger, I am a son of God who blogs. I am not a sinner, I am a saint who sins.

If you don’t see the ridiculousness of classifying music (Christian or otherwise) as entertainment, consider the idea of classifying a theological book that happens to be humorous as “Christian Humor”. The problem is that the moment we define the book as such, we’re bound to have people reading the book solely for the “humor” in it. To define is to confine. We must therefore be careful with our definitions lest we put our borders too restrictively on ideas that are bigger and more complex than our finite minds can comprehend.

FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

There are many things that we can do for the glory of God. I believe that it is in the process of seeking to glorify and delight in God that we find ourselves delighted and entertained. However, the devil wants to replicate the same “felt” outcomes of delighting in God and achieve them through misguided and misplaced purposes. For instance, while sex is enjoyable, that does not mean that enjoyment is the primary purpose of sex.

When we make the enjoyment the end, then any means of attaining that enjoyment becomes acceptable e.g. pornography and masturbation. In the same way, romantic feelings are an incidental part of the whole package of marriage. However, if we make those feelings the sole basis for a marriage, then there’s nothing to stop us from pursuing them in misplaced objects, e.g homosexuality. There will also be nothing to stop us from getting divorced once those feelings fade. Continue Reading…

The popular local secular singer/actress, Size 8, finally “came out” and confessed that she has been a Christian for a while. For a long time, she had struggled with the apparent contradiction between her music and her faith, and she finally decided to make the switch. As she explains in a recent interview, “I have been born again for quite some time and my songs were in conflict with my faith. As much as I was making big cash and commanding a massive fan base, my heart was not at peace.”

There has been a myriad of reactions concerning her announcement. The pendulum swings from skeptics (believers and unbelievers) who are convinced that she is only in it for the money in Gospel music; to the other extreme of Christians who are unreservedly celebrating the entrance of one more lost soul into the Kingdom. There’s also an apprehensive minority who have chosen to reserve their comments, wait it out and see if Size 8’s new found faith will stand the test of time.

If you’re wondering where I stand in that spectrum, I think these words from Paul best describe my current stand: Continue Reading…

Here are a few interesting reads to keep your mind occupied throughout the weekend:

  1. YOU DESERVE THIS POST, This is satire at its best, make sure you get it! Mike Leake; “Finally. After 31 years of trying to convince people, someone finally gets it. I am awesome and I deserve awesome things.”
  2. SINGLE, SATISFIED AND SENT, This one’s for the single boys and girls out there, Marshall Segall: “If you’re single, Satan is after you.” Read on and find out how to evade him.
  3. F.L.E.E. – A STRATEGY FOR PURSUING SEXUAL PURITY, I found this article quite helpful; “So how are you doing at fleeing? Maybe you are fleeing into sexual immorality. Or maybe you’re just thinking about it . . . all the time. You’re already there, of course. Maybe you’re running, but in circles. Images are glued to the walls of your brain. Or maybe this whole subject just adds to the feeling of shame.”
  4. Lastly, I agree that this is THE BIGGER ISSUE IN CHRISTIAN HIP HOP DEBATE, Alex Medina; “A Christian who desires to make an entire album about nature and it’s beauty is not being unfaithful to the Gospel of Christ. They need no justification to create art. They are free to create art about everything that belongs to their God, everything.”

That ought to keep you nourished for the weekend. Have a blessed day, friends.

This song reminds me of an earlier post written on a related subject, Volunteers in Hell, in which I noted that “God doesn’t send people to hell, they volunteer.” Woe to the man who has grown up hearing the law of God, and the call of the Gospel, but still chooses to ignore it. Here’s a YouTube link to the song in-case you haven’t already listened to it.

The first verse reminds those who grew up in a Christian subculture, attending Sunday School and constantly being bombarded by Christian messages; that they have no excuse for ignoring God. They cannot claim ignorance. The song is in Swahili, so, here’s (my best effort at) an English translation: Continue Reading…

Many are the times when I’ve sat down to write on the beauty of the Gospel only to find that the news in my Gospel doesn’t sound so good. Even more are the times I have written about the freedom that we have in Christ, only to find myself complicating the freedom and making it sound like just another jail-cell within the same prison. At such times, I usually stop and ask what it is I am missing. What’s wrong? If what I am writing about is the greatest news on earth, shouldn’t there be a little more excitement in my verbs and a little more exultation in my adjectives? Why the grave tone? Why the sad fonts? That’s when it hits me, some joys cannot be contained in carefully constructed sentences that are afraid of offending people. I should be dancing unashamedly like David. I should be singing, not mulling. I should be praising, not prodding. I should be doing what Joyce Omondi does so well in her song, Conqueror.

It is a simple song that celebrates the victory that believers have in Christ. Continue Reading…

I will say it up-front, Jimmy Gait’s new song, “Appointment” is both simple and beautiful, I guess that makes it simply beautiful? As usual, I will go straight to the lyrics, for that’s my niche in these reviews. I have not been able to locate any online links containing the lyrics. But I wrote them down and translated them into English for the sake of this review. The first verse describes how, in our human society, even if you may be close friends with a VIP, you will still need an appointment to see them in your time of need. This is because their office and the system requires it: Continue Reading…

“Prayer is the practice of the presence of God.  It is the place where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made.  Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God.” – Matt Slick (CARM)

What images come to your mind when you think of prayer? Folded hands, bowed head, closed eyes, bended knees and a sombre mood. This is the most common list. The Bible also describes various contexts in which prayer is said or expressed. One of these expressions is through music, such as the Psalms of David. However, what struck me most about the lyrics to Adawnage’s Naomba is the attitude expressed in the words of the prayer-song. Continue Reading…

A glimpse into the mind of one of the most influential Christian rappers today. The following are some of the questions that Lecrae responds to, on this interview:

Q: How did your collaboration with up and coming southern rapper Big K.R.I.T. come about?

Q: Do you think it is alright for Christians to listen to secular hip-hop?

Q: Why do you think Christian rap is perceived as being corny by believers and non-believers?
Please check out the whole interview on the link below:

Lecrae Speaks on New ‘Gravity’ Album and Unashamed Tour 2012: Come Alive.
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Cornell

“Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” [Psalm 32:2]

It is songs such as this one that encourage me to keep believing that there is still a remnant in this generation, and most specifically; in the Kenyan Gospel Music scene. If you haven’t already given it a listen, please do so via this YouTube link. The rapping is a bit too fast (for me) but the message is CHRIST-all clear. Christian rap lovers will not be disappointed by this one. But hey, I should not be singing these praises even before reviewing the song! Maybe I am just imposing my biases on you. I apologize. So here we go; Continue Reading…

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16

In the last lyrical review, I promised to present a biblical case for claiming that Nonini’s “Colour kwa Face” and Daddy Owen’s “Mbona” were similar in the “fact” that both songs (or at least both lyrics) did not actually present a biblical/Christian worldview even though both songs did make a reference to the God of the Bible.

Before, I begin, I’d like to first clarify several points of awareness which will be at the back of my mind throughout this post. Continue Reading…

Before embarking on this review, I was praying about it and I was compelled to do a little research regarding the circumstances surrounding the song itself. I hope what I found will help in furnishing my objectivity for the lyrical review. The lyrics to the song are in Swahili and I will therefore generally translate the message for the sake of the review. The song highlights the plight of the disabled and was the public entry point for Daddy Owen into his campaign to “empower the less privileged in the society especially people living with disabilities.” It is also important to keep in mind that I am doing this review as a sequel to the review I did earlier of a similarly themed song by Nonini. Continue Reading…

Yes, I know that this is an unexpected review. Considering this is a Christian blog targeting Christian readers and aiming to glorify God, your surprise is justified, but hold off your judgment and cool your jets… at least until the end of the review. Thank you.

Now, the reason why I chose to do a review on a secular song is because the message in the song is bound to reveal several things about Christianity and Christian music. The song “Color kwa Face” by Nonini is basically a protest against the discrimination aimed at Albinos in Kenya and Tanzania. This message comes against a backdrop of news reports about Albinos being abducted and killed, and their body parts sold to witch doctors to be used as recipes for charms and other similar concoctions. Here’s a link to one such news story if you need to familiarize yourself with the issue. Continue Reading…