Why I wrote a book

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Reconsidering No Religious Affiliation

Recent studies suggest more and more Americans, classified as the "Nones," are claiming no religious affiliation.

These aren't just numbers. Each number represents a person. 

Some of them are people I know and love deeply. They grew up in church, but now wouldn't identify with any organized religion. We've had great, hours-long discussions on this topic. 

As a Christian, one thing I've taken away from these conversations is that we too often aren't engaging people at the point where they are wrestling through these issues. That's why I was so encouraged over the last month. 

My church Holy Cross PCA recently did a four-part series examining how the gospel speaks to the main points of contention of people with no religious affiliation.  

All four messages are well worth the listen. 

1. Which God? This is a sermon examining the Biblical God versus characteristics assumed to be true about the God of the Bible. 

2. Literally? Troubling passages? Scientific improbabilities?  Impossibly high sexual ethics? Do you expect us to take the Bible literally? 

3. Facts and Faith. Do you really believe Jesus rose from the dead? 

4.  Either, neither or both?  The problem of evil. Either God is:

  • all powerful but not all good 
  • all good but not all powerful
  • not all good or all powerful  

Or ... is there another option? 

These are such important topics. If you take me up on listening to any of these messages, I'll treat you to a cup of coffee so that we can talk about it. 

P.S. If it's helpful to share your story about why you left the church,  please e-mail both chrislassiter540@gmail.com and office@holycrosspca.org. We'd be interested in hearing your stories. 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications last year. You can order the book here.  His latest book, Grits and the Grimels, can be purchased here

Friday, August 4, 2017

Sixteen thoughts on 16 years of marriage.

1. We've aged, and I still think my wife is the most beautiful woman on the planet Earth.

2. My wife and I are open with our problems we have. We're not trying to present a photoshopped perfect marriage to the people that know us. However, we are both wise enough to settle those differences in private. Never on social media.

3. You don't get married and stop dating. You get married so you can date forever. #NoteToSelf

4. A wise man once said, "Marriage isn't 50/50. It's 100/100."

5. Only humility will get you out of what pride got you into.

6.  Being a husband (along with being a father) is the hardest and most important thing I've ever done. This Art Azurdia quote explains why.

"A husband's life is to be characterized by a predetermined committment to always act in the highest interest and greatest good of his wife.... this love is to be an ongoing performance that could never be interrupted by any imperfection on her part." 

7.  The importance of the phrase "Will you forgive me?" can't be overstated in a marriage.

8.  We live modestly, and as a family of seven try to make dollars stretch. It's crazy that Emily and I got to spend the week leading up to our anniversary in the Bahamas, but that's what happened. How it happened could (and may be) another blog in itself, but we are extremely grateful.

9.  If we are too busy to invest in our marriage, we're too busy.

10. Why is marriage important? Because it shows two people love each other enough to commit to loving a person in the future and not just in the present. For better or for worse. In sickness and in health. On August 4, 2001, I made a commitment to love the present and future version of Emily Lassiter. It's a promise that both of us, by God's grace, plan on honoring until we die.

11. We've received so much wise counsel from sitting down with others. There's no way to put a price tag on how valuable sitting with wise people has been for our marriage. We all can benefit from having people invested in seeing us grow in the important areas in life.

12. Evidently, I've had my fair share of second dinner helpings over the last 16 years.

13.  The church has been wrestling through unique marriage questions for the past decade. Pastor Bryan Loritts presents the most balanced, biblical teaching I've heard regarding some of these questions in a four-part series entitled The Gospel and My Gay Neighbor. Definitely worth a listen.

14. It may be another 16 years before we master the art of compromising on dinner plans.

15. We both brought a lot of brokenness and wrong thinking about relationships into our marriage, but God in His grace has seen us through!

16. I  have good friends whose marriages didn't make it. I hurt for them, but they are by no means second-class citizens to Christ. The gospel is that all who put their hope in Christ alone - whether single, married, divorced, widowed, etc. - are fully loved by God and have his smile.

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His second book, Grits and the Grimels, can be purchased here

Monday, May 15, 2017

How the Inspirational Keon Scott story should end

On his double-platinum debut album Ready to Die, the late Notorious B.I.G. offered the following commentary about life in Brooklyn.

"The Streets is a short stop; Either you slinging crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot." 

The line is delivered without any hint of boasting. The legendary New York City emcee is simply stating that escaping the poverty and violence of the inner city isn't easy. For those who do escape, from B.I.G.'s viewpoint, it's either by embracing the criminal underworld (slinging crack rock) or being so good at a sport that a coach comes with scholarship in hand and "rescues" you (got a wicked jumpshot).

The same sentiment, tweaked and reworded, has been echoed for decades by dozens of hip-hop artists.

When Biggie penned those lyrics, he stated them as a truism, a statement that all things being equal generally holds true.

Of course, there are exceptions.

This year, I read Ron Suskind's A Hope In the Unseen, a fantastic book that follows teenager Cedric Jennings from Washington, D.C.'s Ballou High School to Brown, an academic elite Ivy
League school.

The book vividly chronicles how Jennings, an inner-city kid who grew up in poverty, pursues academics as a way out of the hood. (Everyone should read this book, or get the audio book from your local library).

Keon Scott's story isn't exactly Cedric Jennings' story.

But it's not all that far off, either.

Scott was a slender guard with a silky smooth game, and the type of jumpshot that the Notorious B.I.G. described in Things Done Changed. A former star at Robert E. Lee in Staunton, Scott was a key cog during the school's 85-game winning streak written about in Patrick Hite's excellent book The Staunton Streak. Scott was also an all-state performer as a senior.

But Scott didn't graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University (political science degree) in the winter of 2016 because of his jumpshot. It was because of his brain.

Stories like Scott's are why I miss journalism.

But his story is also difficult to tell.

The difficulty of telling Scott's story well is telling it without telling anyone else's story.

Scott has a mom (Lynette) and a grandmother (Wanda) that would literally run around the world for him twice, and other family members that form a loving and support group for him. However, not everyone in his circle of friends and family has avoided the traps of the street life, or the consequences that come with those traps.

You will have to hear that part of the story from Scott, if he chooses to share. That's his story to tell, not mine.

Scott wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  And although he did play a little junior college basketball at Potomac State, it was his academics and not his athletics that put him in the position he's in now.

I've left out dozens of fascinating details about Scott's journey, which includes time at Piedmont Virginia Community College.  We'll leave it at an inspiration overview. I want to focus on what I hope, for our community's sake, happens next in the Keon Scott story.

First, I hope that people in the business of inspiring kids in our community will bring him in to speak to kids. Here's a guy that pursued his athletic dreams with great success, but at the end of the day used education to get ahead in life.

Second, I hope that businesses in our community will literally fight to see who can hire Scott first.

Here's what absolutely can't happen. We can't cheer for him playing basketball in a Lee High uniform, and when he does everything we ask of him to be successful, not be a contributor to that success.

Parenthetically, my good friends Tony Davenport, Kendrick Kier and I have been dreaming of creating a local urban networking group to create a support base for people just like Scott.

A young man with a great jumpshot, and an even better mind.

Monday, April 24, 2017

4 Things We Need for Breaking Bread

Community friends, 

We are a few days from hosting our community talk Breaking Bread to Build Bridges (how's that for alliteration?). 

In case you missed it, I've posted two videos on Facebook explaining our heart behind putting on this event. 

Just in case you haven't seen the videos, I'll give a quick recap here. 

We believe sharing meals is a way to forge friendships, and we are hoping that by simply sharing a meal together we can break down some of the political, ethnic and cultural barriers that divide us. 

After we left our final meeting Monday, I thought about FOUR THINGS community members could do to help us pull the event off well. 

1. Bring bread. We can't break bread together without bread. We're hoping that some people will come with bread in hand, specifically bread that helps tell the story of their family and their culture. It would also be great to know who is bringing bread in advance. 

2. An artist (or two). We would love to have an artist come and actually paint or draw whatever comes to mind as he or she attends the event. If you are an artist or know of an artist that would like to help us in that capacity, please let us know. 

3. Technology needs. We are working on making sure we have an adequate sound system, a projector and a projection screen for the event. 

4. You. Of the four needs, "you" are the most important by far. We can put all the pieces in place, but what we really need is your presence, your insight, your perspective and your willingness to come and be a learner. This event can't happen without you. If you are on the fence about coming, please hop off the fence and over to our event. We need you!

There are a few other needs (volunteers anyone?)  posted in the Breaking Bread to Build Bridges Facebook event page. 

You can reach out to me (chrislassiter540@gmail.com) or Staunton vice-mayor Ophie Kier (okier@ci.staunton.va.us) if you can assist us with anything on the list. We hope to see you Sunday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Enter for win BoxAnd1Podcast Give-Away

The Box And 1 Podcast is currently running a give-away in which one person will a pair of HD headphones, two urban theology books and a signed copy of Andrew Russell’s I Am That I am EP.

The promotion, which is being run through rafflecopter.com, begins Wednesday, November 23 and runs for two weeks through Dec. 6. There are multiple ways to enter the contest through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

More information can be found on thecrosspromotion.blogspot.com and the Box And 1 Podcast fan page of Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by friends John C Richards, Jr. Jeremy Hartman and Chris Lassiter, The Box And 1 Podcast discusses sports, current events and urban culture through the lens of the gospel.  
Richards, the managing director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, has practiced law and served in vocational ministry. Author of the book The Tenacity of Hope – one of the books offered in the give-away - Richards has degrees from Morehouse College, Howard University School of Law and Fuller Theological Seminary.

Hartman (hartmanbasketball.com) is a basketball trainer. He coached a high school girls’ basketball team to a state championship in 2012. Hartman has a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Scranton.

Author of the book You’re Grounded and the forthcoming book Grits and the Grimels, Lassiter worked bi-vocationally as a sports reporter and a campus ministry leader.

Hartman and Lassiter were basketball teammates at a small Division III school in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The two, who both live in Staunton, VA, remained close friends after their Shenandoah University hoops careers.

The Box And 1 Podcast is available on the johnrichardsjr.com Website and in iTunes. The Twitter and Instagram accounts for the podcast can be found at @boxand1podcast. For interviews or further info., contact Chris Lassiter at 540-569-0270 or by e-mail at chrislassiter540@gmail.com

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications in 2013. You can order the book here.  His first kids' book, Grits & the Grimels, comes out soon. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

We started a Podcast

At the beginning of 2016, I sent two of my friends an e-mail. 

I was making my resolutions - because I love resolutions - and I invited them to dream with me. 

Let's create a podcast that replicates the environment of the neigbhorhood barber shop. Mix in story topics from sports and urban culture. Talk about imporant stuff. Talk about funny stuff. And, most importantly, have those conversations shaped by the gospel. 
For a few days, we tossed around ideas. 

Then, nothing. 

For the next three months, no podcast talk. 

Out of the blue, John Richards texted me that he was willing to give it a try. I knew John, aka J-Rich, from The Legacy Conference (a conference I would recommend to everyone), and we had stayed in touch ever since. (Click on John's name and read up on him. He's a super funny guy, a great encouragement and one of the sharpest young theologians I know). 

My homeboy Jeremy Hartman (J-Hart), who was my college basketball teammate at Shenandoah University, agreed to give podcasting a try, too. (Click on Jeremy's name to read about his passion for basketball as a teaching tool for all of life). 

In fact, J-Hart and I did a trial podcast around two years ago. Both J-Hart and I are well under 6-foot tall. Another one of our former teammates, the funniest guy on our squad, suggested we call our podcast "Small Talk." Really funny, Ahmed. 

Once we had our new podcasting team established, we just needed a name. J Rich is tall, so  "Small Talk" wouldn't work (Thanks for trying though, Ahmed). We came up with a bunch of good names, but The Box and 1 Podcast just seemed to stick. 

Right now, we're in the infancy stages. Nine episodes deep in a weekly podcast. We have a budget of zero, no advertisers and the most basic of recording equipment. What we do have, however, is humor, ambition, good chemistry and a conviction to help people see things through a gospel lens. Check out the Box And 1 Podcast here or on iTunes and let us know what you think. 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications in 2013. You can order the book here.  His first kids' book, Grits & the Grimels, comes out soon.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Four Things Christians Can Learn From Baseball's Integration

One Christian journalist referred to it as “The only Oreo crumb in the cup of milk.”

The Oreo crumb phrase is in reference to being the only black person in a room full of white people. And, during my time in church and in campus ministry, this has been a regular occurrence for me. 

On the one hand, it's not that big of deal. What we have in common - the cross of Christ - is so much greater than our skin color that distinguishes us. 

On the other hand, it can be awkward. 

And confusing. 

And uncomfortable. 

Sort of like how 1947 was uncomfortable for Jackie Robinson. 

On April 15, 1947, Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball,  in large part due to a visionary named Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager who helped pave the way for Robinson.

When the MLB honors Robinson on April 15 this year, roughly 10 percent of the players in the league will be black. The sport is now so integrated that the Negro Baseball League ceases to exist.

But how did they get there?

And what can churches and campus ministries learn from baseball's integration? 

I can think of at least four things. 

1. Branch Rickey thought things could change. When no one could imagine one united major league baseball system, Rickey could. I love Rickey's quote. “I may not be able to do something about racism in every field, but I can do something about it baseball.”

We may be not be able to stop all racial division in the body of Christ, but perhaps like Rickey we can change it in our particular sphere of influence. 

2.      Branch Rickey invested in multicultural friendships that were deep enough to shape his convictions. One can only wonder how much of Rickey’s convictions came from befriending his one-time teammate Charles Follis, the first black professional football player. Rickey's front row seat to Follis' sub-human treatment created empathy and sympathy in him. 

Here's a tough question. Do we have multicultural friendships so deeply rooted that they help shape our life convictions? If not, can we really expect the dynamics of the room to change? And what are we willing to do if those answers are no?

3. Branch Rickey went scouting the Negro Baseball Leagues.  The Boston Red Sox brought in Jackie Robinson first as a politically correct gesture,  but Rickey actually went to the Negro League games in order to find a baseball player that could help integrate baseball. 

Rickey had a team of scouts that watched the Negro League players. In other words, he entered another culture and then invited someone from another culture (Robinson) to come integrate baseball.  

He invested time, money, talent scouts and resources into it, and he was willing to go where it was culturally uncomfortable. If we're not willing to make make similar sacrifices, we're really just paying the idea of a gospel-centered diversity a lip service. 

4.  Rickey was willing to upset the status quo. Jackie Robinson was as vilified in 1947 as he is idolized in 2016. The Negro Leagues didn't like losing Robinson as a player, and so no one was on board with it initially. Rickey knew this would happen. And he knew it would take a player with both Robinson's talent and vision to pioneer the way for other blacks.

Let's be honest. When areas diversify, it creates a whole new set of problems. You have to think through a whole set of cultural questions that you don’t have to think through in homogeneous settings. 

The question then becomes: is it worth it? Is having integrated churches and campus ministries more God-glorifying, Christ-exalting and more consistent with "on earth as it is in Heaven?"

In 2016, we'd find the idea of segregated baseball repulsive. I'm hoping we will find the idea of the church being segregated equally repulsive.  That goes for campus ministries, too.

Do we really want to see multicultural expressions of the body of Christ in our churches and campus ministries?  Would we really love to see it "on earth as it is heaven?" Or are we content with "on earth as it was in the Jim Crow South?" 

As the world remembers Jackie Robinson, let's let his example remind the body of Christ that what has been isn't what always has to be. 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five kids and a freelance writer for Young Life Relationships, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and other publications. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications in 2013. You can order the book here.  His first kids' book, Grits & the Grimels, comes out this spring.