Why I wrote a book

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Five Favorite Blog Posts from 2014

As we say good-bye to 2014, I'm taking one final look back at my favorite blogs of the past year.



If you've been keeping up with me - or if you are just peeping this for the first time - here's a flashback to my five favorite blogs of 2014. If you click on the blog title, the blog will open up. 


1. Our podcast needs a name ... This was my favorite, because it's still a huge dream of mine to have a faith and culture podcast. My main man Jeremy Hartman and I did a pilot episode, and maybe one day we can find time to record consistently and make it a reality. 



 2. Ferguson Aftermath - Why Two Cops Came to My House. If 2014 is remembered for anything, it will be the year of great racial tension which revealed that we are not in post racial America just yet. So here's a blog post about people from my church willing to sit down and have hard conversations, as well as the explanation of why two cops showed up at my house. 


3.  That's an Interesting Way to Cook Chicken. One day, my wife and I may write a book on interracial marriage. It's a joy and a challenge. This blog talks about how the gospel and our different cultures shape both our experience in the kitchen and in the marriage. 







4. Fake Jordans, Real Life. As a Young Life Leader at my former high school Robert E. Lee in Staunton, I work with a group of kids that are expert detectives on how to spot fake Jordans. The great irony is that many times I wish they had the same clarity in seeing the difference between a real and counterfeit life. 




5. A Letter to My Friends Who Have Left the Church... Or have never started it. As the kid who left the church, I can sympathize with those that leave. This my story of why I went back, as well as an offer for you to come back, too.  







If you're thinking of including church in your 2015 plans, come with me on January 4th. Our church, Holy Cross PCA, has a friends Sunday this week, and afterward I'm taking friends who come out for pizza and picking up the tab. 

I would love to know which of these five was your favorite and why it was your favorite. 

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




Monday, December 15, 2014

This Tuesday is .... A Time To Listen

A little over a week ago, I wrote a piece  in the News Leader.  


It was a follow-up to a blog post that I had written before the non-indictments of officers Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo. One of the things I urged in my blog was that progress in situations like these involve a great deal of listening. 

On Tuesday, December 16 (which is tomorrow at the time I am writing this) a multicultural group of evangelical leaders will be leading and live-streaming an event called A Time To Speak. (Read the press release of the event here.) 

The event - which is being held at the same Memphis hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated - features John Piper, Bryan Loritts, Matt Chandler, Eric Mason and many other men and women that I respect greatly. 

I'm really excited that evangelical leaders are praying and moving to action. In my wildest dreams, I picture a church in my generation that begins to live into the racial unity that the scriptures say has already been achieved at the cross.

And, as my wife Emily Lassiter  and I continue to hope to be part of the solution, we would gladly open our home to anyone interested in catching the re-broadcast of the event at 9 p.m. eastern. 

Just let us know. 

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


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Awful Clothes, Funny Teammates and The Gospel

I never signed up for Fashion 101. My college teammate decided to enroll me. 

They enrolled me because I own shoes like this.

Growing up, I only really cared about basketball and hip-hop. I was so focused on my two passions that I didn't realize there were actual rules to fashion. So when I showed up at Shenandoah University, my wardrobe wasn't fresh. 

Not fresh at all. And that's an understatement.

Shoes weren't Foamposites. Jeans weren't Levi's. And a quick glance through old pictures will reveal that my shirts, as Kanye once told Sway, "Ain't Ralph Though." 

Right: Not Ralph Though... Left: Cross Colours 
The purple Reeboks pictured above (I won them from Champ Sports with a soda top lid) are just one sad example of things that were in my wardrobe. My fashion sense (or lack of fashion sense) didn't sit well with one of my teammates, Larry Tharpe. A post player from Washington, D.C., Larry's disappointment in my wardrobe reached a boiling point one day. 

I promised what happened next is a true story. Larry ran up in my room, pulled open my closet doors, and started angrily body-slamming my clothes, forbidding me to wear most of my wardrobe ever again. 

He wasn't joking! 

I'm sure all of my friends from Shenandoah University are cracking up right now ... unless you are one of the other two people that had the same experience with Larry. 

The New Testament writer Matthew records a story of a guy who has a fashion crisis worse than mine. He rolls up into a wedding party, but his outfit "ain't Ralph, though!" In the parable, everyone is invited to a wedding banquet of the king, but one guy shows up in something that's not appropriate wedding attire. 

The guy - there's always that one guy - is thrown out of the party (like Jaz on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) and is severely disciplined.

The question is why. 

In our society, fashion represents social standing. In this parable found in Matthew 22, clothing represents moral standing. The central message of the Bible is clear. Our own morality (represented by the unfit clothing in this parable) could never measure up to God's standards. 

There is no list of do's or don'ts that can make us right with God.  To put it fashion terms, our morality "ain't Ralph, though!" I'm not saying you're not a great person. I'm saying that using the biblical standard of morality, everyone falls miserably short. The picture in the parable is that this guy thinks his own morality is good enough to be in the presence of God. 

By way of contrast, the King accepts the wedding garments of the other guests. The reason is because those garments were provided by the King Himself. The garments provided by the King are a picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The gospel is that Jesus came to rescue us from our moral brokenness. My pastor Rick Gilmartin always says, "We don't need rules! We need rescuing." 

Jesus lived the perfect life we could never live in our place. Then He goes to the cross on our behalf to die in our place.  The acceptable garments are a picture of the righteousness Christ provided to cover our sins. 

Jesus is our rescuer!

Imagine I wanted to go to a social event with Larry. If I would have gotten dressed in my own clothes, Larry would have said there was no way I was going out with him looking like that.  I would have had to borrow "acceptable clothes" from someone with better fashion sense. 

This is what Jesus does for those that place their trust in Him. Rather than God grading us on our morality - how well do the do's and avoid the don'ts - God grades us on Christ's morality.  And Jesus was perfect. So Christianity isn't based on what you or I did. It's based on what Christ did. 

Just like I would have needed someone with better clothes to provide me an outfit, I need someone with a perfect righteousness to provide me right standing with God. And that Someone in Jesus Christ. 


I write these blogs as conversation-starters. I would love to know: 


  • What is the worst thing you've ever worn? 
  • How do you believe man can be right with God? 

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

4 Ways to Help Me Help Lee High Kids This Week

I love Lee High kids, and I need your help! 



For the past 13 years, I've gotten to walk side-by-side with many Lee High kids through life. This happens through an organization called Young Life. It's been one of the best experiences of my life. 



On Oct. 24-26, I have the great privilege of taking the current group of Lee High kids to Young Life camp at Rockbridge Alum Springs in Goshen. The camp does cost money, and that's where I need your help! 

Here are the four ways you can help me help kids this week. 

1. Give. Lee High is diverse, both ethnically and socio-economically. In order to take a group as diverse as the school itself, we fundraise and provide partial scholarships. When you give, we can have students do sweat equity projects for free (call me if you have such a project you need done) and then scholarship kids to camp. I hope to get $600 in donations and $400 through the fundraiser listed below for a total of $1,000.00. 

You can make checks payable to Young Life and give at the address below:  

Chris Lassiter
Valley Young Life
142 Richardson Street
Staunton, VA 24401 

2. Buy. I have a book called You're Grounded. For the time being,  100% of the proceeds of this book go to camp scholarship. Books are $10. Buy one from me, or buy one down in D. Moats Barber Shop on the corner of Central and Frederick.  If I can sell all 40 books I have left, I can take four more kids to camp. 



3.  Share. Re-post this blog on your social media sites. E-mail this blog to friends, church leaders, businesses and individuals who you think may be supportive of Young Life at the school. I'll be glad to sit down and explain what we do and how we do it with potential donors. Every re-post and e-mail helps. 

4. Pray for us. Pray that we meet our financial goal and that we don't have to tell any kid no because of financial reasons. Thanks for helping me as I try to help kids. 


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


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bigger Than Football: P.K.'s Story

Life is bigger than sports. Thank you P.K. Kier for reminding us. 



Before I tell you what P.K. - a sophomore at Winchester's Millbrook High School - did for a 7-year-old cancer survivor, let me explain our connection.  

I went to Shenandoah University in Winchester mostly because P.K.'s dad, Pede, was already there playing baseball. (I didn't know that  going to college together meant Pede would steal all the food in my refrigerator every night, but that's a different story.) 

Growing up, I thought the world of Pede, who live three blocks from me in Staunton. That admiration has only grown as we've gotten older. Most importantly, Pede shared the gospel with me. It has completely changed the trajectory of my whole life. 

At the beginning of the season, Pede e-mailed me an article about P.K.'s four-touchdown performance. I was impressed. Last week, Pede sent me Val Van Meter's Winchester Star article about PK and his teammates. 

I was even more impressed. And the article had little to do with football. 

P.K., his coaches and his Millbrook teammates arranged for 7-year-old Isaiah Truman to be the team's special guest on the sideline. Truman's guest appearance highlighted a week where doctors said that his brain cancer was in remission after a year of treatments. 

P.K. and Isaiah are neighbors.  According to the story, P.K. went to his coach Josh Haymore and told them about Isaiah. The 7-year-old's story includes being airlifted to U.Va Medical Center, a rare diagnosis of brain cancer in a child, and routine trips to the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. 

The team, who wore bracelets with Isaiah's name on it, then came up with a way to support Isaiah at the football game. 

I work with a lot of kids. We often talk about servant leadership. We define it as "taking initiative for the benefit of others." Thank you P.K., coach Haymore and the Millbrook football program for being one such example on this occasion. 

When sports is done correctly, it's supposed to teach you about life: how to put "we" before "I," how to battle adversity, how to accomplish goals, how to be part of something bigger than yourself. It sounds like the Millbrook team is learning this lesson. 

If you are thankful kids are still learning lessons through athletics, take the time to encourage the 2014 Millbrook Football team. You can write them at: 

Millbrook Football
c/o coach Josh Haymore 
251 First Woods Drive
Winchester, VA 22603 


At the least, take the time to encourage the team through email in care of coach Haymore. 

His e-mail address is haymorej@frederick.k12.va.us. 

When things make us angry, it motivates us to action. We'll write a letter or send an e-mail immediately. I hope the thought of this next generation taking initiative for the benefit of others will motivate you to take a moment to publicly applaud them. 

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Off to college: The next chapter for a Lee High Success Story

If  you've never been properly introduced, meet Liam Fairfax. 



He's front left in the picture above, and he has a pretty amazing story. I've gotten to watch firsthand this pretty amazing story unfold as Liam's Young Life leader. Some parts of that story I've learned in confidence. And those parts I'll take to the grave. You'll just have to trust me if I say that he's been through a lot to get where he has gotten. 

Other parts of his story are public. 

For instance, his high school football teammates all know how Liam helped Lee High beat the Broadway Gobblers in a game he played a few hours after attending his mother's funeral. She battled a long-term illness. Another very public part of his story is he was one of the few minority students at Robert E. Lee to attend governor's school. 

So here's the deal. 

Liam is now at my college alma mater Shenandoah University. He wants to do something in the medical field. 

I know that we could never replace the support system he had in his mom, but I thought it would be kind of cool to form a support system for him nonetheless.  Here's what I had in mind. 
  • If you are reading this blog, send Liam a card of encouragement in the mail. His address is: 
Liam Fairfax
Shenandoah University
1460 University Drive 
P.O. Box 265
Winchester, VA 22601 

Make sure that your note of encouragement also contains a few bucks, too, especially if you remember those college Ramen Noodle nights. 
  • If you are in the Winchester area reading this, please make sure you adopt Liam as your little brother. My Shenandoah University friends were - and still are - like family to me. So I'm calling on all my SU family still in the area to look out for my main man Liam while he's there at school. 
I wrote this blog to my hometown community and all my friends with ties to Winchester or Shenandoah University. I also want to add one sentence to the black community here in Staunton. 

For years, the older generation of blacks has rightly preached to following generations that education is vital. Here's a kid that has taken you up on that advice. And a major part of his support system is gone. I hope that "WE" will be there for him. 


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


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Six Reasons Staunton needs a Soul Food Restaurant

In my city, Staunton, lunch options abound.





I can get Thai food, Indian food, Italian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Japanese food, etc., and that doesn't even mention all the burger joints and sandwich shops.

But something is missing.

That something is soul food.

That might not seem like a big deal. Trust me, it is!

Here are my seven reasons why Staunton needs a soul food restaurant.

1. As a tourist destination in the south, our city should offer soul food. As a lifelong Stauntonian, I'm really proud whenever a magazine gives Stauton a shot-out. But as a tourist destination in the south - one of the 20 best small cities in several publications - we should have a soul food spot. You'd never go to Chicago without eating pizza or Philadelphia and without eating a cheesesteak. When people come south, they should expect to get soul food.

2. The numbers say we should have a soul food restaurant. I was grabbing lunch with my cousin at a Mexican restaurant. As we started talking about this topic, we went online and found an ethnic breakdown of Staunton. The black community is just over 10 percent of the population here. Only one other minority group made up even two percent, but many of the different ethnic groups in Staunton have a restaurant.

3. Food is one of the easiest ways to break down cultural barriers. Each year, our community hosts an African-American Heritage Festival. It's a wonderful gesture where the African-American community in Staunton welcomes the rest of the community in to experience its culture. One of the easiest ways to share that culture is try the food. That needs to happen more than one weekend a year. And that's why we need a restaurant. 

4.  A soul food restaurant could potentially be another black-owned business in a town that needs more black-owned businesses. Full disclaimer. I don't know anything about the economics of running a restaurant. I do know there are a great number of soul food cooks in this city. And I  know I would pay to eat their dishes regularly. 

5. Cultural diversity is a huge part of recruiting a more diverse workforce in our city. Barbers shops aren't just barber shops. And, likewise, soul food spots are more than soul food spots. They are central to relationships in the black community. Because they are so important to relationships, it's an easy way for young black professionals moving into the community to begin to build relationships in a new city. 

 6. Finally, it just fits with the spirit of Staunton. Our city, particularly our downtown, is marked by its uniqueness. There aren't a bunch of chain stores and restaurants. Every store has a story. And a soul food restaurant is one  potential restaurant with a story that our city is missing. 

 I write as a way to start conversations. Do you think Staunton could support a soul food restaurant? What's your favorite soul food dish? 

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



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ferguson Aftermath: Why a Pair of Cops Showed up at my House

Two weeks ago,  a pair of cops showed up at my house. 

I invited them. 







My wife had given an idea to our pastor Rick Gilmartin. And our pastor had asked a culturally diverse group of us to meet and discuss our feelings about the Ferguson shooting. That group included a pair of police officers. 

Our pastor offered to host the meeting at the Holy Cross office, but I thought a meeting at my house - in a part of the city where some folks struggle to trust law enforcement - would be a more appropriate setting. 

So we met. And we talked. And, most importantly, we listened. 


We all shared our perspectives about the case and the case's coverage, and how we each felt that the gospel should speak to reconciliation. Because we had started the hard work of building cross cultural friendships, we could all say what was on our mind knowing that we could leave the meeting with our friendships in tact. 




My church's main focus isn't racism. Thankfully, it's the gospel. Come to church with me, and each and every week the focus is going to be the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's my favorite thing about my church. However, one of the evidences of the gospel applied is we see the cross of Christ factoring into the way we view race relations. 


For at least one day, the steep, narrow steps leading up to my home represented steps toward racial reconciliation in the church. In the midst of a vivid reminder that highlighted just how much racial tension still exists in our country, I was able to be part of the solution, albeit a very small one.

I write these blogs as conversation starters. What's one small step you'd be willing to take to be part of the solution to race relations?

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





Friday, September 12, 2014

When I Don't Fit in part 1

 This 2-minute Anomaly video describes my life perfectly.




In fact, it described my life so accurately that I actually got emotional. The emotion-evoking part was the way LeCrae vividly described his life with words that sounded like he was describing my life. 

I can relate to LeCrae. I don't fit in. 

I love hip-hop. And I hate hip-hop. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat. Not a conservative. Not a liberal.The all-black and the all-white church - neither or which has a scriptural precedence - can both be uncomfortable places for me. 

As I wrote in an article for Rapzilla, it's been an interesting journey for me and some friends to find a church that is eager to embrace the Christians who make their cultural home in hip-hop. 

One comforting thing in all this is knowing that other people feel the same. A few weeks before my wife showed me the LeCrae video, she sent me a blog post by pastor Thabiti Anywabwile on the Gospel Coalition.  Again, I felt like someone was writing about my life. 

Please take the time to read the article and watch the video! 

There are two reasons I think the blog and video hit me so hard. 

1. It was so freeing to know I'm not the only person who feels this way. You may know how you feel, but there's just something about having someone else voice your same concern that comes as a relief. You think, "Maybe I'm not crazy after all." 

2. There is freedom in not fitting inside the box.  When people put you in a box, they expect you to stay inside the box. The problem is I almost suffocated inside of the box. It's hard - actually it's really hard - not to fit in, but there is also a freedom not trying to conform to fit inside the box. 

At the end of the day, I'm learning to be more comfortable with who God has made me to be as He shapes me more and more into the image of His Son. 

I write these blogs to create discussion. What did you think of the Anomaly video, the Anyabwile article or both? 

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

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Letter to my Friends who Have "Quit" The Church ... Or Have Never Started it

I'm not so arrogant to think I know all the reasons that my friends don't go to church.  



People are nuanced. They don't fit in nice, little boxes.  However, if I were to grab coffee with my friends (I actually don't drink coffee) I think I have an idea of answers I would hear pretty consistently. I imagine I may hear the following: 
  • Been There. Done That. Not doing it ever again. 
  • Who needs faith when there is science? I'm more Bill Nye than Ken Ham
  • I have a bunch of church scars. 
  • "Jesus is the Only Way" sounds kinda rigid.
  • I see more hate than love from the church.
  • I tried going to church one time and they yelled at me for how I was dressed. 
  • I watched Preachers of L.A., and that show just looks like a mess. 
  • All of the church scandals have got me like, "Uhm, no thanks!" 
  • The church is full of hypocrites. 
  • I didn't grow up in church and going now would be awkward. 
  • I can't live in that Christian Bubble (aka Saturday Night Live's Church Lady

Here's what I do know. As soon as I was old enough to leave the church, I basically did. During my college years, I rarely ever attended church. I really had no plans of going back. I didn't feel like I was missing a lot. And what I was missing, I was glad I was missing. 

Or so I thought. 

Then I became a Christian. I realized that I had judged the Bible by my church experience rather than my church experience by my Bible. Maybe that's your story, too. As I began to understand the Bible, it began to change my attitude toward the church for three reasons: 
  • God's love for the church
  • God's purpose for establishing the church
  • God's mission for the church
I'm not naive. I realize the church is by no means perfect. As I grow in my understanding of what God wants the church to be, however, I can resonate with pastor Art Azurdia's quote: "Any problem I have with the church must be a lover's quarrel." 

That brings me to my offer-slash-challenge to you. For one week, come back to church with me. 

On Sept. 7, - that's this Sunday - my wife Emily and I are hoping to have some friends come with us to church. Lunch will be our treat afterward, because we are that passionate about reconnecting our friends to the church. 

I attend a church called Holy Cross, and you can visit the church's Web site here.  It's located right across the street from the Gypsy Hill Park football field and Tams Lake. Church will start at 11 and finish up around 12:30. We'll come up with a quick eating arrangement that will allow any who chose so to be home by kick-off. If you want to stay and talk afterward, we'll stay after lunch for as long as you have questions. 

I write these blogs at conversation-starters. I would love to hear your heartfelt, respectfully communicated views on the church. 


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


Monday, August 18, 2014

Five Thoughts on Michael Brown and Ferguson


Here's what we know: Michael Brown is dead. A cop shot him. A community is outraged. A city is in complete chaos, and our nation is split on how to feel about it. 



Here are five thoughts that I have. 


1. A teenager is dead. If our nation can not agree on any other particular point, I hope we can agree not to lose sight of the fact that Michael Brown's parents will be visiting their son's grave site instead of his dorm room. No matter where else you land on particular issues about the case, that's just incredibly sad. 


2. We avoid the hard conversations that lead to progress. There are certain trigger phrases in cross-cultural relationships that are explosive. Here are a few: 



  • "Why do you always have to play the race card?"
  • "You can only see that through the eyes of white privilege!"
  • "Well, if he wasn't wearing a hoodie..."
  • "What if that happened to your son?" 
And because tensions can run so high on these cross-cultural discussions, we tend to avoid them altogether. The cost of avoiding these conversations is progress in race relations. And, sadly, it's a price that we all seem willing to pay. 



3. The American church is forfeiting her right to lead in areas of racial reconcilation. Ideally, here's where the church should be able to lead the way in reconciliation by saying look at us. Instead, we must remain silent because we haven't made any more progress than the culture on this point. 

4.  Some writers are nailing the implications are Ferguson. I hope you take time to read Derwin Gray's piece called Why We Need More Multienthic Churches and Austin Channing Brown's piece called Black Bodies, White Souls 

5.  We can be part of the solution. Here's a starting point. Make an extended effort to make sure all of your friends aren't the same ethnicity as you. And then, don't settle for superficial relationships with your friends from other cultures. Nurture those relationships until they are strong enough that you discuss stories like Ferguson in a way that when you the discussions are over the relationships are still fully in tact. 

I write these blogs as conversation starters. I would love to talk to you about the following two questions: 1. What is the hardest part about being part of the solution? What will you do to be part of the solution? 


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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The One Web Site I wish I would have found sooner

For all of my adult life, I have loved to write.

And so I have written.

I wrote sports for a newspaper. I started a blog. I've contributed to music magazines and Web Sites for years, and I've written consistently for Young Life Relationships. I even had my first book published with Moody Publications in 2013.


Despite growing as a writer, I still know there's a ton more to learn. And I also realized that I knew absolutely nothing about the writing industry. Ok, I wrote a book! What happens next?

I knew there had to be a resource out there to help people in my situation, and I found it on a Web Site for the Greater Philly Writer's Conference

Here's the great thing! I couldn't make the conference, but they in essence can bring the conference to you. All of the conference messages are available as mp3s or cds that you can order. I've ordered 18 messages from the 2013 conference  and I've learned information that will be invaluable to me going forward as a writer. 

A few of my favorites from the 2013 conference were: 


  • Publish Your Book - Jomo Johnson
  • 20 Ways to Market Your Book Marsha Hubler
  • How to Book Speaking Engagements - Becky Spencer
  • Best-Selling Children's Books - Sally Apokedak
  • Publishing With a Small Press? - Eddie Jones
I look forward to getting the 2014 messages next, and prayerfully even attending the event in 2015. (Hit me up if you are interested. Maybe we'll carpool)

Please do yourself a favor. Find the topics that interest you and order them today! 

I write these blogs as conversation-starters. What other great resources have you found to help you as writers? 


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



Friday, August 8, 2014

On behalf of my friends Doc Walker and Merlin Jackson

I'll make this short and sweet. 

Two of my friends (and if you are reading this probably two of your friends as well) could use a little help from you this week. 

If you have time to write a letter on behalf of Doc Walker and Merlin Jackson, it would mean the world to me and the world to them. 

If you can write on behalf of Doc, please send it asap to: 

Rhonda Quagliana
416 Park Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

If you can write on behalf of Merlin, please send it asap to: 

Dana Cormier
P.O. Box 85
Staunton, VA 24401

This is all the information I'm willing to put on social media, as it's not really my story to tell. If you would like more info. - and you want the info. because you are truly trying to help - you can text me at 540-569-0270. 

The sooner those letters arrive, the better. And they make a huge difference!!!! 

Thanks! 

Chris Lassiter

Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Reasons I go to Chicago Every Summer ... And Maybe You Should, Too

Another year. Another great Legacy Conference. 


Every year I make an effort to make it to Chicago for the Legacy Conference. I didn't think I was going to get to go for financial reasons in 2014, but as I prayed about going I got an unexpected check, which was really an encouragement to my prayer life as well. 

I'm going to list five of the reasons that I keep going back year after year in hopes that more of my friends will join me for the Legacy Conference in 2015. 

1.  I go every year because of the atmosphere of the conference. 


It's like a big 'ol family reunion for Christians who live and serve in an urban context. If you have a big extended family that gets together each year for a reunion - with lots of laughs and lots of food - then you know what I mean. It's like a reunion where everyone is related by Christ. It's something you have to experience, and I hope that you will. 

2. I go every year because of the rich biblical teaching. 



I had to leave before Francis Chan spoke this year, but Art Arzudia and HB Charles blew me away in the general sessions that I did attend. Listen to the first five minutes of the HB Charles sermon to see what I mean. Art Arzurdia just has a way to capsulizing things with his words, such as "Any problem I have with the church must be a lover's quarrel."  

Or, this quote: 

"Young people are leaving are leaving the church of Jesus Christ today in unprecedented proportions -  not because the youth group isn't cool enough, or the music isn't contemporary enough or the media isn't sophistocated enough - but because our portrayal of Jesus Christ and the cross aren't compelling enough." Listen to that five-minute sermon snippet here

In addition, there are dozens of breakout sessions you can attend on all different manners of topics including arts, theology, preaching, social justice, family, etc. 

3. I go every year because of the amazing artistry on display. 



In 2014, the conference dedicated a whole night to a spoken word artist performance. I wasn't ready! To say it was amazing would be an understatement. I cried. And I'm not even much of a crier. It was that amazing. This six-minute video is from one of the spoken word artists, Ezekiel,  that was at Legacy this year. Of course, there was a crazy hip-hop concert, a Friday night Cypha and a 16-bar challenge (videos should be posted shortly). 


4. I go every year to better equip myself to serve my city. 


Even in a small town like Staunton, Va., I see a lot of brokenness. I believe that the gospel can bring hope to my city, and I pray to that end. The classroom sessions, like the one above with Gus Cruz (far right in the picture) help me to do just that. P.S. I have never used so many sticky notes in my life. 


5. I go every year because of the opportunities. 



In 2014, they also had a writer's panel that I got to attend. It was very helpful information and it led to more connections with other authors. Writing is one of my greatest passions, so getting the chance to grow as a writer was important to me. In fact, a big part of me getting to publish my first book was through connections I made at the Legacy Conference. 

That's my best shot at convincing you to come with me next year. I write these blogs as a place to start conversations. I would love to hear answers to the following questions: 

1. Who wants to come with me next year?
2. What conferences have you been to that you recommend? 

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



Friday, August 1, 2014

If you're new to this blog

I'm so glad you are here. 

If you heard my book advertisement on jamthehype.com or wadeoradio.com - or if you just stumbled this way - thanks for stopping by. 

So ...  A little about me.  I grew up in a hoops-loving,  hip-hop fanatic in a small city in Virginia. My life has been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Now I'm trying to figure out what it looks like to live, do marriage, parent, work and engage culture in the light of the gospel. 

The wife, kids and I helping to run a Young Life camp in the Bahamas 


I lead Young Life at my old high school, Robert E. Lee in Staunton, Va, and I am a freelance writer and author of the book You're Grounded. 

I like to blog about how the gospel impacts culture issues. This blog is  meant to be interactive. I write a little something, but it's only supposed to be a jump-off point for conversations.  I would love to hear your thoughts even as I share mine. 

Here are three of my favorite old blog posts... 



I look forward to engaging with you soon. 

Welcome back (again)? Four Thoughts on Ma$e's Return to Hip-Hop

Ma$e is back in the news again. 

The latest on the rapper-turned-pastor-turned-back-to-rapper is that Betha is leaving his pastor position for a full-fledged return to hip-hop.  



Full disclosure: I grew up a fan of Ma$e. 

Not just pop culture icon Ma$e that was P. Diddy's sidekick at the height of the Bad Boy era, but Murder Mase that rapped with Cam'Ron and Big L in a group called Children of the Corn. Back before he was even famous, I was a fan of his work on the mixtape scene coming out of New York.  

I watched Ma$e's story with great interest because I became a Christian at the same time that Ma$e left hip-hop for the first time to pursue his own spiritual journey.  I even went to a college in Baltimore to hear Ma$e speak at the Hell is Not Full Tour

 

With Ma$e's most recent return to hip-hop, here are four thoughts that I have. 


1. I hope the response of the church is to bend their knees in prayer for Ma$e and not just shake their fingers in judgment. 

Some people find it hard to have sympathy for millionaires. I don't. Unlike me, Ma$e's entire spiritual journey has been open to public scrutiny. 

Ma$e watched  label mate and close friend die Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." die violently. Ma$e recently went through a divorce.  Reportedly, he also lost the custody case for his kids. 

Regardless of what you think of Ma$e as a pastor, theologian or Christian  - and I am sure Ma$e and I would have some sharp theological differences - he is still a person made in the image of God still in need of the mercy of Christ. 

2. I wish Ma$e's path would have been more like No Malice and Jin. 

Ma$e isn't the only recognizable name to abandon his platform in hip-hop to follow Christ. Malice from the Clipse and former Ruff Ryder artist Jin also land in that category. There is a difference, however. In Ma$e's book, Revelations: There's Light after the Lime,  he spoke of distancing himself from hip-hop because of all of the evils associated with the genre. 

Jin and Malice (who is now No Malice) have taken a different approach: to engage hip-hop culture for Christ from the inside. Although Jin and No Malice are bold in their proclamation of being Christ-followers, they still rap and identify with hip-hop culture as a whole. They still make quality hip-hop music, but they have changed their content to be consistent with their beliefs and their worldview. 

In return, they have found a new audience of fans of hip-hop music who share their beliefs. The rappers and that fan base mutually encourage one another. I wish Ma$e would have have been a bigger part of that community, too. 


3. Church leadership is for the spiritually mature. 

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul lays out a list of church leadership qualifications in letters written to young church leaders named Timothy and Titus. 

The standard is super high. And, as the New Testament states, it is not a calling for those new to the Christian faith. The faithfulness and maturity that Christian leadership requires must be cooked on a crock pot on low, not in a frying pan on high. 

I don't know Ma$e personally. Never met him. In my own situation, I've had wise men of God look to see if I was ready to take steps into Christian leadership. I don't know if Ma$e had these type of men in his life or not, but I just sincerely hope that he wasn't rushed into the pulpit to leverage his influence without his maturity ever having been inspected. That would be unfair to both Ma$e and any congregation he led. 

 4. How Christians approach the arts (in this case hip-hop) really matters. 

There is one line of Christian thought that says Christ wants to be glorified in everything, so Christians should be active in the mainstream film, music and television industries. And not just active, but leading the way. 

There is another opposite line of thought that says that these things are so evil that Christians should retreat. Rather than influencing, this line of reasoning goes, we will only be influenced. 

At the first reading of Ma$e's book a decade ago, it seemed the people influencing him may have subscribed to the latter form of Christian thinking. It was almost like there was this line in the sand: choose between hip-hop or Jesus. 

To me, the dream scenario would have been for a group of godly men to entrust the truths of the gospel to Ma$e,  preparing him to go back into hip-hop with an understanding of how to use his mainstream hip-hop platform for Christ. Not by saying Jesus in every sentence, but by addressing the same subject matter as other rappers from a distinctly Christian viewpoint. 

Then the church could have cheered his return to hip-hop as a missionary. 

And not mourned his return as a musician. 

I write these blogs as conversation-starters. I would love to hear thoughts! What do you think about Ma$e's return for hip-hop? 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily, and father of five kids. He has written articles for VIBE, The News Leader, Rapzilla.com, HipHopDX.com, JamTheHype.com and the Young Life Relationships Magazine. His first book, You're Grounded, was published by Moody Publications. You can read about it and purchase it here.