black history, theology, Kids' books

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When A Non-Violent Felony Becomes a Life Sentence.

 Should every prison sentence be a death sentence?

courtesy of Haley Bell Photography
Of course, that answer is no.  

But please listen to the story of three personal friends who are finding out that second chances in society are not so easy to come by. 
  • Friend 1 actually is as good of a thinker as I know. He thinks brilliantly. Yet he has a non-violent felony on his record. Last week we talked after a job hired him and then immediately rescinded their offer as they processed his background check. 
  • Friend 2 is younger. We went on job searches on and off for months. He even came to my house and filled out applications online. I was a reference on all of his applications. No one would hire him. Two weeks ago, he called and told me had gotten in legal trouble making money by illegal means. His quote to me was, "C, you know I'd tried to get that money the legal way." 
  • Friend 3 has been taken every step he knows to rebound after a recent prison stint. He's just trying to take steps forward, but every step now requires an income. And an income requires a job. And so far, no one will hire him.
I listed three people, but this list could have been 33 people. I didn't write this blog just so you could feel sympathy for these guys. I didn't write it to justify their previous bad decisions. I know what they did was wrong. They know what they did was wrong. This is about the frustration we feel in watching people whose debt to society has been paid try to move forward, only to be consistently sent backward. 

And it's a call for help.

How can you help? 

Here are three ways. 

1.  If you know of an employer that believes in second chances, please help me get in contact with them. 

2. Help fix a broken system. The saddest thing is that this problem is systemic. If we don't create a way to help people find tangible ways toward a preferrable future, I'll write this exact same blog a few years from now about some different friends or students. 

3. We need career coaches. Maybe you are not in a position to hire. However, in every circumstance I mentioned, my friends could use a mentor in how to succeed in business from successful businessmen. We've all been taught how to work for money. No one ever teaches us how to make money work for us. It would be great to have a businessman meet with these guys and start a business leaders academy and be accountable for helping them be successful. 

Redemption stories are my favorite. They remind me of the gospel, in that Jesus Christ came and lived and died in my place, so I could have a chance and entering into a personal relationship with God. The Bible is the world's greatest redemption story. If you are fan of redemption stories, please watch the 3-minute video of Michael Vick above, and then help me get involved in creating some new redemption stories.

I write these blogs as conversation starters. My hope is that you will contribute to the conversation with your thoughts on this topic. 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five amazing kids, a journalist and a freelance writer. Moody Publishing recently released his first book, You're Grounded, which you can read about here.  

The Cross Promotion Blog gets updated twice a week. Please consider following the blog by signing up by e-mail or by joining this site by using the "Join This Site" option at the bottom of the blog.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Five things we should learn from Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson is my new favorite football player.

Photo courtesy of
Growing up, my favorite football player was Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney, a player who heroically gave his life saving three other boys drowning in a swimming hole in Louisiana. (Read Delaney's story here.)

Delaney will always be my all-time favorite player. 
But my favorite current player is Wilson. 

I love the fact he's from Virginia. I love that he's been told he couldn't his whole life, only to prove time and time again that he could. I love the way his teammates rally around him. And I love that he carries himself with integrity. As I've followed his career, here are five things I think we could all learn from Wilson.

 1. Sometimes things don't go your way. You can't give up!  In the biggest game of his athletic career - last Sunday's NFC championship matchup against rival San Francisco - Wilson fumbled the first snap. 

Then he found his team down 10 points early. But he didn't give up. He helped his team fight back and pick up the victory. In life, you and I will fumble sometimes, too. And, just like Wilson, we have to get up and play the next down. We can still win, too.

2. Leadership matters.  Wilson transferred from N.C. State from Wisconsin as a senior in college. He quickly won the starting quarterback job, but he also won the affection of the other men in the Badger locker room. He was even named team captain shortly after his arrival on campus. 

There are two types of leaders: 
  • leaders you follow only because his or her title says boss. 
  • leaders you follow willingly because you believe they will lead you where you want to go.  
While physically gifted, Wilson isn't a prototypical NFL quarterback as far as height and stature. Yet his ability to lead himself and his teammates is unquestionable. Each of us has a sphere of influence. At the end of the day, do you want to be the type of leader people follow because they have to or because they want to?

3. Make the most of your opportunities. His Wisconsin Badger teammates put their faith in Wilson with good reason, as he led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl and was named an all-American. Still, NFL teams were hesitant to draft him, because he was only 5-foot-10. However, Seattle did take him in the third round, after every team had passed on him twice. Wilson, however, made the most of the opportunity, beating out Matt Flynn for the starting position, and now he's in position to lead the Seattle Seahawks to the Super Bowl in just his second season. 

I'm not telling you to have faith in faith. I'm 5-foot-8, 37-years-old, and a few (dozen) pounds over my college basketball playing weight. It's not like if I dream hard enough to be LeBron James, that I will be LeBron James.

What I am saying is that if you know there was something you are meant to do, do it. There were always be naysayers and people who don't believe you can. And when you get discouraged along the way, remember at various points Russell Wilson was probably discouraged, too. But he didn't give up. And when the opportunity presented itself, he literally ran with it.

4. Don't be good when you can be great.  The 41st round pick of the Baltimore Orioles out of Richmond's Collegiate High School, Russell Wilson actually committed to N.C. State as a baseball player. In 2010, he was the fourth round choice of the Colorado Rockies. But at some point, he chose the sport he was most passionate about and felt like he could excel in the most. Choices between good and bad are usually easy to make. When it comes making choices between being good or great at something, that's usually more difficult. We have to learn to pursue what we can be great at and not settle for something we where could be simply be good.

5. The thing we're most known for doesn't ultimately define us. My favorite thing about Russell Wilson isn't that he looks like one of my best friends Jeremy Hartman (see here), or that he grew up 90 minutes from me, or even that he's a short athlete balling out.  It's that he knows that sports isn't ultimate, and that he knows what is ultimate.  

I've been a sports writer for 15 years. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who enjoys sports more than me, but sports isn't ultimate. In fact, sports play a very small role in my life compared to the story of God's redemptive work in the world through His only son Jesus Christ. That, Wilson believes and so do I, is what's ultimate in this life. 


Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily Lassiter (read her blog here) and a dad to five crazy but wonderful kids. A Young Life leader in his hometown of Staunton, VA, he has written for VIBE,, The News Leader, and many other publications. 

Recently, Moody Publishers released his first book You're Grounded, which you can read about here. The Cross Promotion Blog gets updated twice a week. Please consider subscribing by e-mail or at at the bottom of the blog where it says 'Join This Site.' 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Help!!!!!! Our Podcast Needs a Name!!!!!

Now you can catch me name-dropping like The Game, but I only came in the game to drop one name (Jesus) - Phanatik.

My main man Jeremy Hartman (peep his blog here) and I have dreamed about covering sports and culture since we were basketball teammates at Shenandoah University back in the day. 

The only problem is when we dreamed, we didn't dream up a name. Now that we've successfully recorded our pilot podcast (which you can listen to here) , we need to pick a name for the podcast. Fortunately, we have some creative friends who either sent us great options or things so hilarious that I was literally on the ground laughing. 

Here's what we need from you. If you like one of the name options 0r you have your own, let us know. Write your favorite on the link right here. We also want to know which of our friends you think is the funniest, so at the bottom of this page let us know which name you think is the funniest.

I will start with the funny names: 
  • BYOB - Bring Your Own Bible (I got superweak when I read this one) 
  • Turnover City (J Hart and I had a few turnovers in the SU backcourt)
  • Church Party 3 (a hysterical parody of the movie House Party 3, nice)
  • A Righteous Turnover (I see what you did there Melz)
  • Spiritual Guidance from Staunton's own Kid-N-Play (speaks for itself) 
  • Wisdom from Point guards who pass and point guards who don't (let's just say one of us may or may not be a SHOOTING guard trapped in a point guard's body.) 

Here are the names we we would actually consider for our faith, sports and culture podcast: 
  • Real Talk (We talk about real stuff ... it's a possibility)
  • Gaining Ground (has potential)
  • Get Lifted (well played with the spiritual double entendre)
  • Small Talk (We're both a tad shy of 6-foot and it's a podcast)
  • On Point (two former point guards)
  • The Crossover (has a spiritual and an athletic meaning)
  • Pardon The Introduction (you see what he did there)
  • Podcast With No Name (the name of the pilot podcast)
  • That's What's Up (Somebody gave us a shot out, but it kinda had a ring to it.) 
    Now that's you've seen the options - or if you have your own - help us decide!
Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five crazy and fun kids, a Young Life leader in his hometown of Staunton, VA. He has written for,, VIBE, and other sites. 

Moody Publishers recently published his first book, You're Grounded, which you can read about here. The Cross Promotion gets updated twice a week. Please consider subscribing by e-mail or joining the blog at the bottom of the page where it says "Join This Site." 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fake Jordans, Real Life

"You're Selling out your birthright/And that's senseless like trading in a motorcycle for a dirt bike. I'm mean the earth's aiight, but turn on the search light. You'll see. It's not a new pair of Jordans. It's some hurt Nikes. - Da T.R.U.T.H.

My little brother and I are almost 20 years apart in age, so we grew up quite differently. When he goes shopping with mom, he comes out with Jordans. 

Back in the day, when I went shopping with mom, I came home with these. Yes, those are Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon's signature Etonics.

And when I was growing up, it was easy to spot a fake pair of 
Jordans. What made telling the real from the fake so  easy was that companies never tried to pass fake Jordans off as real Jordans. Companies did much like FUBU does now, stealing the entire design but never passing their imitation shoes off as the real thing. The Stadias pictured below, for instance, were one company that copied Jordans. 

However, as Jordans continue to soar in popularity, so does the counterfeiting of the popular sneaker. And now impostors make the imitation so close to the original that it's becoming more and more difficult to tell the fake from the real.  Watch this 6-minute video below to examine just how close the imitation is to the original.  (Caution: the video maker uses a few crude words to describe subtle differences in the shoes).

Here's the point. I volunteer in a high school campus ministry called Young Life at Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton. At that school, I work with a group of students who could all teach a class on distinguishing between real and fake Js.  In their world, inauthentic Jordans are completely unacceptable.

But what about real life? If something like tennis shoes deserves this much scrutiny to authenticate realness, how much scrutiny does the question "What is the meaning of life?" deserve? 

There's a way to live life that is just like a pair of fake Jordans. That way is to try to make something other than God - stuff like sports, music, money, sex, fashion, ourselves - the ultimate thing in which we find fulfillment. That's like trying to make a pair of fake Jordans a pair of  real Jordans. At the end of the day, they will always be fake Js.

Then there's an alternative.

God allows you to turn into your fake-Jordan life for a real life. According to God, real life is entering right relationship with Him. Although you, me and every other human had been separated from God through our sin and independence, Jesus Christ lived and died in our place in order that we can enter back into a dependent relationship with God. It's the life we were made to live. 

So what will you choose? The fake or the real? 

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

  • What is your all-time favorite sneaker?
  • What is the funniest thing your mom ever bought you to wear?
  • What's something you took away from this blog?
Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blogs here), and father of five wonderful and crazy kids. He has written for The News Leader,,, Young Life Relationships and other publications. Moody Publications recently released his first book, You're Grounded, which you can read about here. The Cross Promotion Blog gets updated twice a week, so please consider following by signing up through e-mail or following by clicking 'Join This Site' at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Five Things You Should Do in 2014

The new year is here.  It's the time when people either a.) make great plans for the next 365 days or b.) mock people who make great plans for the next 365 days.  

A lot of people laugh at others who look to a date on a calendar to change, but I'm an optimist, and I like to view the new year as a time to start fresh. As I map out my own 2014, I'd invite you to do consider making these five things a part of your new year. 

1.  Make Resolutions.  I know some of you are rolling your eyes, but I love resolutions. Not random or ridiculous goals.  In 2014, I have no dreams to: 
  • wake up in a new Bugatti
  • have one million Twitter followers 
  • re-gain my six-pack from my youth (although I do want to be healthy.) 
Time is precious. A year is a good way to measure time. I just want goals that make sure I'm making this year of my life count. The picture here uses the acronym (S.M.A.R.T.) for goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. It's a good litmus test for goal-setting. (Read an old blog about the importance of goal-setting here.)

2. Remember how we interacted before cell phones and social media. I'm cool with social media ... so long as it doesn't replace real relationships. In 2014, go backwards. Write people you care about personal letters. Hang out with your friends in person. Cut your cell phones off one day out of the week. Don't let your social media relationships replace real relationships. Value true friends over followers on Instagram.  No amount of technology can replace the beauty of real friendships.

My wife and I cliff-jumped!
3. Create Memories. In 2013, I decided I wanted to create one memory with everyone in my family. My wife and I worked Young Life camp in beautiful Bermuda. I took my daughters to a Flame and V.Rose concert in Charleston, W. Va. My best friend and I took our sons to the Lego Convention in Louisville, KY., and I took my youngest two daughters to the Virginia Beach Marine Museum. I want to do one thing with each person in my family that they will remember the rest of their lives.

4. Travel.  Make big trips in 2014. Make small trips in 2014. There's so much world to see, so many places to eat, so many different cultures to experience. In October of 2013, my family went to Myrtle Beach. I took the bus down just to see what it would be like spending 19 hours on a bus (not all that fun as it turns out). It was, however, a new experience. I hope to have a bunch more this year.

5. Don't Waste Your Life.  This might be one of the most important hip-hop videos ever made (well worth four minutes of your time)

In the video, two friends plan a robbery that goes horribly wrong. Years later, the men begin corresponding again as they figure what's worth living for in this world. I love the surprise ending.

I relate to this so much. I spent years searching for meaning in sports, accomplishments, relationships and anything I thought could bring ultimate happiness. None of it was bad, but none of it was ultimately fulfilling. 

I found true meaning when I came to understand the one big story of the Bible - God's rescue plan for mankind through the person of work of Jesus Christ. In 2014, ask yourself this important question: Am I wasting my life?

I write these blogs as conversation starters. What's one thing on this list you plan on doing in 2014?

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), and a father to five crazy but wonderful kids. He leads Young Life at his former high school, Robert E. Lee, in Staunton, VA. He has written for VIBE,,, Young Life Relationships and many other publications. Moody Publishers recently published his first book, You're Grounded, which you can read about here. The Cross Promotion blog gets updated twice a week. Please consider subscribing by e-mail or at the bottom of this page where it says "Join This Site."