Monthly Archives: September 2014

How Lecrae, Christian Rapper, Mixed Hip Hop And Theology To Find Mainstream Success

How Lecrae, Christian Rapper, Mixed Hip Hop And Theology To Find Mainstream Success

Posted: 09/29/2014 12:01 pm EDT Updated: 09/29/2014 12:59 pm EDT
LECRAE
NEW YORK (RNS) He’s been crowned the “new hip-hop king” and his newest album, “Anomaly,” topped iTunes and Amazon charts the day of its Sept. 9 release. He’s been invited to birthday parties for both Billy Graham and Michael Jordan and riffed on NBC’s “Tonight Show” with host Jimmy Fallon.

It’s the kind of mainstream success that has eluded most Christian rappers. Then again, some people are still trying to decide if hip-hop star Lecrae is a Christian rapper, or a rapper who happens to be Christian.

It depends who you ask, including Lecrae himself.

“God has also raised up lowly, kind of insignificant individuals to do miraculous and incredible things,” Lecrae, 34, said in an interview. “We’re the Gideons, we’re the Davids. Even Jesus himself made himself of no reputation. It’s when you can link it back to God doing it, I think that’s what he loves. He’s not a megalomaniac, he’s deserving of glory and honor, and to use individuals that demonstrate that it was him, and him alone, it accomplishes his mission and that’s success.”

While most Christian artists have struggled to break out of the Christian music subculture, Lecrae has found early crossover success — and a significant following among white evangelical elites. He navigates the tricky waters between rapping explicitly about Christianity while reaching a mainstream audience.

According to Billboard, he’s sold 1.4 million albums and 2.9 million track downloads. “Anomaly” hit Billboard’s No. 1 last week — a first for a gospel album and only the fifth for a Christian album. His acting debut in “Believe Me,” a film about a group of four men who try to con money out of churchgoers, received a short, positive nod from The New York Times.

Some of Lecrae’s fans are worried the success could ruin him or at least soften his lyrics. But when Christian artists like U2′s Bono or Switchfoot find mainstream success, many Christian fans often latch on for good.

In fact, while once shunning mainstream and creating its own music and entertainment subculture, American evangelicalism now values recognition and engagement in mainstream culture.

“Lecrae is probably the hottest Christian artist alive right now,” said Atlanta megachurch pastor Louie Giglio in his sermon on Sunday (Sept. 21) at his Passion City Church.

Giglio recently ran into Lecrae in their hometown airport in Atlanta, praising the artist for his recent success. “It’s only hors d’oeuvres for heaven,” Lecrae responded.

No ‘Christian spy’

In a recent piece for ESPN’s Grantland, Rembert Browne compares Lecrae to filmmaker Tyler Perry, who successfully reached black and Christian audiences.

“Because, in ‘Anomaly,’ like some of Perry’s films, the Christianity sneaks up on you,” Browne wrote, linking “Believe Me” to a string of other recent successful Christian-themed films. “It’s clear there is a market for Christian-themed pop culture.”

Lecrae, who attends the start-up Renovation Church in Atlanta, isn’t sure what to make of the “sneak up” language.

“Obviously, to the conservative evangelical, or the Christian, they hear ‘sneak’ and they think, ‘Why do we have to sneak?’” he said. “But when we hear that from somebody outside of the Christian culture, in many ways they mean that as a compliment.”

“What they’re trying to say is that they didn’t feel like they were berated, or beat over the head, or made to feel like they were being patronized, or condescending. By no means am I trying to hide my faith, or disguise myself as a Christian spy.”

If Lecrae is “sneaking up” with Christian themes, then his lyrics will slap listeners in the face as he regularly raps with explicit themes on faith. Anomaly’s song “Fear,” for example, includes lyrics from Psalm 23 and repetitive mentions of Jesus.

I’mma tell that truth till it kill me

And I’m chillin’ with my Creator

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

To all of my haters

For the ones that think I forgot Him

And the ones who won’t let me say

I ain’t scared no mo’

“Without saying it — because it wouldn’t be very Christian of him — the ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus’ is a cleverly devout middle finger to all of his haters,” Browne wrote in Grantland. “He’s directing it toward everyone who’s criticized him — for being too spiritual and for not being spiritual enough. This is what happens when you’re caught between genres. It’s this middle ground that makes Lecrae different. And that feeling different — not Christianity — is what this album is truly about.”

‘Dear Hip Hop’

Lecrae has received favorable attention in recent years from white evangelicals, particularly the neo-Calvinist Reformed crowd that is influenced by John Calvin, the 16th-century French theologian. Lecrae’s 2008 song, “Don’t Waste Your Life,” is the same title as a book from retired megachurch pastor John Piper, the high priest of Reformed evangelicals.

“I think a lot of us became Christians in a hodgepodge, because doctrine was not a thing; we weren’t considering theology,” Lecrae said. “We were just like, ‘Hey, we love Jesus, let’s go.’ I’ll read this Piper book, and go to this T.D. Jakes conference, we just absorbed everything. I think the Reformed doctrine just presented a lot more organized, drawn-out theology. I could wrap my mind around it, and it wasn’t as mystical.”

Just as Lecrae is building bridges between secular and Christian audiences, leading evangelicals say hip-hop can bridge the divide between largely white churches and the changing world around them.

“Maybe it’s about building a bridge in the other direction: a bridge of empathy for a largely white, middle-class church to a fatherless, economically forgotten, and sometimes angry youth culture,” wrote Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a cover story for Christianity Today last year.

“If so, maybe it can help pull American Christianity out of its white middle-class ghetto and into the vastness of the kingdom of God — a kingdom that has room for both Jonathan Edwards and Jay-Z.”

Lecrae can name-drop influential theologians with the best of them, including Piper, Randy Alcorn, Francis Schaeffer, Abraham Kuyper and Charles Spurgeon. It wasn’t until the end of his thought that he mentioned Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he references in his music.

“I love looking back and being able to understand that nothing we are dealing with is necessarily new, just understanding how people wrestle with things historically and how I can apply that to the present,” Lecrae said.

He’s also probably the only rap artist to drop the name of New York megachurch pastor Tim Keller, or Christianity Today executive editor Andy Crouch, into his lyrics. Both men, he said, “influenced me to think about how I get involved in culture, and how do I become a culture creator and not just copy it or condemn it or critique it all the time.”

He has been praised for calling out the rap industry for being self-contradictory when speaking on racial issues like the recent uprisings in Ferguson, Mo. “Dear Hip Hop, we can’t scream ‘murder, misogyny, lawlessness’ in our music & then turn around and ask for equality & justice, ” he told Billboard.

Racial reconciliation, he said, is grounded in theology.

“I think racial reconciliation is really rooted in the reconciliation that we see in Scripture,” Lecrae said. “I think you begin to find yourself being reconciled to people all over the place, and just wanting to empathize with people from all walks of life, specifically as a Christian, to demonstrate the love of Jesus.”

‘A courageous message in a safe package’

Like many rappers, Lecrae, now a married father of three, had a rocky start. Abused and later abandoned by his father, his song “Good, Bad, Ugly,” raps about hooking up with a woman and helping her get an abortion.

He said a police officer pulled him over, saw drugs in his car but let him go when he also spotted a Bible in his car, telling him to read it. Lecrae decided to mend his ways after he survived a crash where his car had flipped over, he said.

In his recent album, Lecrae indicts the spoils of Western excess, American exceptionalism and Christian hypocrisy. One of his friendly critics, Bradford William Davis, called his latest album “a courageous message in a safe package.”

“They’re good, necessary subjects for the hip hop community to wrestle with, but nothing that the cut-rate ‘conscious’ rappers haven’t tackled before,” Davis wrote in his review for the Christ and Pop Culture website. “His presentation is clean, mostly safe, occasionally dated, and a little too predictable.”

Lecrae isn’t bothered by his critics.

“Talking about social issues, talking about love, talking about marriage, child rearing, those are all things that are explicit to who I am as a believer,” Lecrae said. “It’s not just the topics, necessarily, of salvation or sanctification.”

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Forgiveness According to Chef Megan Ashley

Forgiveness According to Chef Megan Ashley:

I came across this rant by Chef Megan Ashley and I COULDN’T AGREE MORE!! #2ThumbsUp

 

“You know what grinds my gears?

When people accuse you of being unforgiving because you don’t FORGET things that have happened to you as a result of other people’s actions.
The devil IS a lie!
GOD throws things into the sea of forgetfulness and doesn’t remember it when we repent. Newsflash: NONE of us are God. We forgive because we required to in order to be forgiven and stay saved. However, NOWHERE in that same passage about forgiveness does He say “Forget it too or I won’t forget what YOU did.” So PLEASE stop telling people they aren’t forgiving if they remember what happened. We forgive, we don’t forget…TRUE forgiveness is realized when you can remember the offense without the STING of how it made you feel BEFORE you forgave.
‪#‎ThatIsAll‬”  – Chef Megan Ashley

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Fiery Trials…Eh, What’s New?

Over the past few months I have really been fighting hard to keep my faith in God as it regards to my future and the next life steps ahead of me. Stress and exhaustion have slowly been trying to creep into my psyche and kill my zeal for the exciting future God has for me. Work is super stressful and don’t get me started on my personal life! I have been literally on edge, frustrated that the next steps aren’t as clear to my natural senses as I want them to be.

But thanks to my upbringing in The Word of God (Holy Bible) I have been equipped and have godly spiritual counsel to refer to when times REALLY got low. I’ll admit, there were days over the past few months that I simply didn’t “feel” like reading my bible. I wanted to just go to sleep or watch a movie and sulk in my emotions. AND THERE WERE MOST DAYS I DID JUST THAT! But more recently, I have been able to come to my spiritual senses, and when my Daily Bible Verse popped up last week, I had to just sit and shake my head at how spiritually blind I was allowing myself to be.

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” – 1 Peter 4:12-13

 

I KNEW that this was true without a shadow of a doubt….because I’ve lived it before! It’s like a constant cycle when you truly give your life to Christ. You’re either in a storm, just getting out of a storm, or getting ready to go into a storm. Regardless of how much we want it to be this way, life will never be sunny skies always. God allows us to experience hard times and temporary “blindness” so we can strengthen our faith and dependence on Him.

These past few months are no different.

If you’re like me and have been experiencing frustration and indecision on your job, in your relationship, or any other area of your life — just keep this verse nearby to remind you that the clouds will soon roll back and you’ll be able to shout like it’s nobody’s business when they do!

– Joc

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7 Truths About Marriage You Won’t Hear in Church

7 Truths About Marriage You Won’t Hear in Church

The Church provides a good foundation for marriage, but here are a few of the things you might not always hear.

But it never failed. I would follow the guideline. I would study the handout. But when it came time, the professor would put the exam on my desk and there would be a foreign formula or equation I had never seen—or, at least, one I did not see on the study guide. Looking back, I realize the teacher did not intend for the study guide to be comprehensive. It was simply not possible to include everything from the required reading, class notes and lectures.

Such is the case with the Church and marriage. I am grateful for the foundation the Church gave me in regard to marriage. It was a good study guide. But there some things on the test I did not learn until marriage began. So I am going to give you some answers to the test that some of you might not expect to see. Here are a few truths about marriage I never heard in church:

1. Sex is a Gift From God. Explore It.

God created sex, but through the years, God’s people have allowed Satan to steal this gift—without much of a fight.

I was never educated about sex—and I grew up in a Christian family. My framework for sex was built by my friends at school and the movies I watched. Big uh oh. I still struggle with enjoying the fullness of sex today because of the cloud of lies formed during my teenage years.

It is time for God’s people to take back the gift of sex. The lies surrounding it are ruining lives and marriages. If you are married, explore the fullness of sex for the glory of God. Pray for sexual intimacy with your spouse.

2. There is More Than One Person Out There You Could Marry.

Soulmates are made, not born. Maintaining a healthy relationship is more about commitment than perfection. Every person on earth has imperfections. And the reality is there is more than one person we could spend our lives with.

Soulmates are made, not born. Maintaining a healthy relationship is more about commitment than perfection

I meet too many young people that are waiting for something that is not real. “I just couldn’t marry her because she smacked her food.” “He just wasn’t the one. But I know my soulmate is still out there. I just have to keep looking.”

What if God does not want you to find a perfect person, but find an imperfect person who will draw you closer to Him? What if God desires you to marry a person with flaws to expose yours? What if God wants to teach you the value and life found in committing to one person forever, not the exhausting pursuit of searching your entire life to find the perfect person?

3. The First Year of Marriage is Really Hard.

What have we done? Are we going to make it? Why is this so hard? These are all questions I asked myself many times during my first year of marriage.

We were arguing. We were fighting. It was really hard. And every day I thought something was wrong. Nobody warned me about the difficulty of the first year.

If you are in the first year of marriage and thinking about giving up, you’re not alone. Everyone struggles. Persevere. There are better days coming. Your marriage will get better. Stick with it.

4. A Spouse Does Not Complete You.

Jerry Maguire has brainwashed a generation of people to believe a lie. Spouses do not complete people. I bought this lie, and it wasn’t until I let go of any notion my wife could fill some void that I was able to truly love her. I had been expecting Tiffani to do something only God can do.

If you are empty, broken or insecure and you believe a spouse is the silver bullet to your problems, buckle up. It will be a bumpy ride. You will never be able to enjoy the beauty of marriage if you think your spouse’s job is to complete you.

5. Marry Someone With Similar Goals, Dreams and Passions.

Marry someone who is a Christian, yes. But I would go further—marry someone with similar passions and dreams. Of course, no two people are going to want exactly the same things in life. But some things are harder to work through than others. For example, if you love foreign missions and your potential spouse hates going overseas, tension is going to arise.

If your spouse has similar passions, they will be able to understand your struggles and fully support your pursuits. There is much power in two people living life with the same goals, dreams and passions for life.

6. Marriage is Not for Everybody.

Paul talks about this in Corinthians. He tells the church at Corinth to remain in the situation they are in. If unmarried, then stay unmarried. If married, then stay married. Later, he says, “So then the person who marries his fiancee does well, and the person who doesn’t marry does even better” (1 Corinthians 7:38).

Maybe it is time for God’s people to accept the reality that God has not called everyone to marry. I have talked with young men and women that are almost consumed with finding a spouse. And most of the pressure comes from church. Once a person reaches mid-twenties, we assume something is wrong with them if they have not married.

Marriage is holy and good, but it is also possible to follow Jesus without a spouse.

Shame on us. Marriage is holy and good, but it is also possible to follow Jesus without a spouse.

7. Marriage is Not About You.

I love weddings. But in an increasingly individualistic, “me” culture, weddings create a potentially dangerous situation. It is all about the bride and groom. Everyone looks at them. Encourages them. Congratulates them.

Many couples have bought the lie of the wedding day: It is all about me. But marriage is at odds with this mindset. A successful wedding day is one where everyone serves you. A successful marriage is one where you serve your spouse. The wedding day is a day where the spotlight is on you. Marriage has no spotlight. The wedding day is joyous and celebratory. Many seasons of marriage are about persevering and not letting go through the storms.

Embrace your wedding day. Prepare for it. Celebrate it. But do not make the mistake of believing the lie that it’s all about you. After your 20 minutes of fame, the spotlight is gone forever. It is no longer about you (and this is a good thing, you will see).

This article was originally posted at frankmatthewpowell.com

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/relationships/7-truths-about-marriage-you-won%E2%80%99t-hear-church#vXHRxaV9BGkXlBKd.99

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Young Pastor on BGSU Campus Addresses Radical Extremist

 

 

Joc’s Thoughts:

Back when I was at East Carolina University (aka America’s Party Grounds) we had guys like this radical extremist who FAITHFULLY stood at every corner of every restaurant or at Joyner Library preaching fire and brimstone.  Being totally honest, I WAS living a false Christian lifestyle meaning: I professed to live for Christ and had the knowledge of Him (because of my Christian upbringing), but I CHOSE to willingly live in the world. I figured “Hmmph, I know God, I go to church, he ain’t talking to me because I got saved in the 2nd grade.” The underlying truth was that I WAS headed to hell — and if I died at that very second I knew that I would soon meet the devil and his imps. BUT GOD (somebody say BUT GOD) allowed me to come in contact with young Christians who, unlike me at the time, were SERIOUS about their walks with Christ and showed me that I had to ask for God to give me strength to overcome my sinful nature and show me how to walk in HIS Word. They didn’t throw a bible at me or tell me no matter what I was going to hell — like that extremist did. They did it a firm way AND by living lives that PHYSICALLY showed me what it meant to walk as a Christian ought.

Now that I am wholeheartedly living and working for Christ, I now know that there is a way that we should, as Christians, give hope to those who are still in the world or straddling the fence. YES living willingly in sin CAN and WILL land you in hell — I will not be fake about that — but WE ourselves can’t physically put anyone in Hell because we are not God. Every man has to work out his own salvation with God the Father and if a person chooses a life of sin…so be it. We don’t have to be friends with them or spend all of our time with them. We have to be satisfied in knowing that we have done our part as God’s mouthpieces by witnessing and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. If the people we are witnessing to say “We want to live totally for God and escape the grasp of Hell” then we need to rejoice and assist in their transition into a true Christian lifestyle.

As the young pastor explained in the video, we need to encourage those living for the world and let them know that even though they got it wrong today, tomorrow is another day to get it right. NO we don’t want them to continuously live and walk in sin and participate in sinful acts without conviction, but we acknowledge that, “Hey, we were once in your shoes until we allowed God to change our lives.”

I am glad my little sis Jazmine posted this. I don’t agree with the students inturrupting and being obnoxious at time, but hey — the message was brought forth. I hope my commentary spoke to someone.

– Joc

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God will wash your Sins with His blood, If you Ask Him

God will wash your Sins with His blood, If you Ask Him

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Thank YOU for Making The Opposite Sex Revealed A Success!

When I say this past weekend was overwhelming…I MEAN IT! Thank you SO much to everyone who was part of The Opposite Sex Revealed Relationship Forum!  Wilson, NC doesn’t have too many creative, artsy outlets where residents can kick back and have fun; so the fact that many of you attended, donated, or even expressed a desire to attend meant the world!OSR_POSTER_24x36_update-page-0

TO THE PANEL, VENDORS, AND MEDIA:

Adeea, Greg, Kendra, Brian, Peaches, and Thomas – thank you so much for really being nothing less than awesome! You brought light, laughter, and truth to the issues that many of us are afraid to address so thank you! You were professional, relatable, and I appreciate you taking time out of your weekend to help make my event a success! To Reginald Mitchell and Rashaad McNeil I thank you all for not thinking it robbery to help bring my vision to life! You men are inspirational entrepreneurs and I want to support you how I can! Thank you again!

TO THE BARNES PROJECT, RASHAAD MCNEIL, AND THE BAND:

You all really exceeded my already high expectations this weekend! I already knew you would murder the mic but good Lord! I really respect you all as artists and will be sitting on the edge of my seat as you all grow and travel doing what God has blessed you to do! Thank you for being so willing to give up your Saturday evening to help bring The OSR atmosphere to life!

TO CHEF MEGZ OF MEGZ MEALS:

I really enjoyed getting to hang out a bit and get a peek into the life of a full time business owner and chef! You give a brand new meaning to what it is to be an entrepreneur and follow your dreams; so keep blazing that path! Your food and artistry was amazing and I thank you for all of your professionalism even though there was a lot of traveling involved! You are a super cool gal and I’m looking forward to hosting more of your cooking in the near future!

TO MY SOUNDING BOARD COMMITTEE:

I wouldn’t really call you a planning committee, because you had to listen to me jump from idea to idea every five seconds! You helped from set up to break down and I truly appreciate you all for your help because CLEARLY the way my mind is set up….. I’d be in loads of trouble without level headed individuals to help close some of the tabs opened in this noggin of mine. You put up with my billion updates and talked me off of some pretty outrageous ideas and I thank you!

TO MY DAD, MOM, AND AUNT:

A lot of you may not have seen them but I am telling you, every time I try to be super independent, my family comes along to remind me that it’s ok to ask for help – I don’t HAVE to do it on my own! They helped make runs around the city when I was running around like a headless chicken setting up for the venue – from helping set up hotels to transporting supplies, to even putting on a hard hat and putting together lights! Thank you so much each of you! I’ve already told you, but I want to tell you in front of THE BLOGOSPHERE! I love you all and am truly honored and grateful that God saw fit to gift me into an amazing family!

TO THE SPONSORS:

Thank you so much for lending your support in a way that was truly the backbone of how everything was set up! Sheryletta Lacewell of Lacewell Allstate Agency, Tawanda Auston of Five Touch Spa and Salon, LaMonique Hamilton of PieHole Magazine – you all are simply the best! I will continue to patronize your businesses and encourage others as well. You women are definitely a force to be reckoned with and I will support in any way I can!

TO THE ATTENDEES OF THE OPPOSITE SEX REVEALED:

Without each of you this event would be for nothing! I’m sure you could tell I was a bit nervous at the beginning but seeing you laugh, ask questions and engage during the night really made me so happy! I wanted to create a creative atmosphere where you could get REAL thoughts from REAL men and women. Because of you, I feel even more confident, that I should work on creating more events in the area where going to the club isn’t the only way to have fun! I want other Wilson natives to see that we don’t always have to spend gas and travel to Raleigh, or Greenville, or Charlotte to have fun – we can host classy events right here in Wilson! I look forward to seeing you at the 2nd Installment of The OSR in May 2015! We were sold out last night and plan on being sold out again! Who knows, we may have another installment sooner than you think. =)

Here are some of YOUR photos of The OSR courtesy of Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter!

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