black history, theology, Kids' books

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Young Life, the Bahamas, my Family, and the Opportunity of a Lifetime

"The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity." 

In 2013, my wife Emily and I had the amazing opportunity to partner with Young Life in Bermuda. The whole week (as you can see from the picture above) was amazing. The only regret we had was the fact that we didn't get the chance to show these things to our five kids! 

This summer, our family has been presented an opportunity to partner with Young Life in the Bahamas. Only this summer, we're hoping to take all five kids with us. Our family has been praying about accepting this opportunity for a few months, and we have to give our friends in the Bahamas an answer this week. That answer will be based on our ability to fund-raise enough money to take the whole family. 

Now that I'm working at nTelos, my summers are more structured than they were in the past. I don't want to spend the only week of vacation I have separate from the family, but I would love for our entire family to have this experience. 

If you'd like to help, please let us know this week. My number is (540) 569-0270, and my e-mail is 


Chris Lassiter is a Christ follower, a husband to Emily (read her wonderful blog here), and father to the five crazy kids I'm hoping to take the Bahamas. He has written for The News Leader, Young Life Relationships,,,, and many other publications.  In 2013, Moody Publishers released his first book, You're Grounded, which you can read about here. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Question Jay-Z never answered: What's the meaning of Life?

Note: Read this blog to the end. I'll treat you to a lunch or a cup of coffee if you take the challenge at the end! 

Hip-hop purists remember Jay-Z before he was a business mogul and pop culture icon. 

One of his first songs was called In My Lifetime, a song where Jay-Z raps about why he can't settle for a mediocre lifestyle. The underground hit also featured the In My Lifetime remix. In the remix, a female vocalist asks the same question repeatedly in the chorus. 

"What's the meaning? What's the meaning of life?" 

The curious thing about the song is that Jay-Z never attempts to answer the question during the song. However, it's hard to blame him. The meaning of life is a big question, and it's a question that's not easy to answer. 

In fact, ask yourself what you would say if someone were ask you what is the meaning of life. 

Follow up by completing this statement. I would be completely happy if ... 

The way you fill in that statement will show you exactly where your hope is in this life. 

I have a friend who wrote an amazing song about this. The lyrics to Phanatik's song Driven go something like this:

We long for timelessness, may if our accomplishments
ever delivered what they promised, if 
life's pleasures were everlasting then I'm additin' 
This might bring God some competition
But everything is short-lived; 
forget about the fortune, forgive the sportsmen and
the actor, slash rapper, entertainer
for making us think that money can sustain us
There are things in life that money can buy
For everything else, an empty shelf inside
Ask the rich man, "Which hand, right or left, 
with which hand do you carry your treasures to life after death?" 

There's a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes. In this book, the writer goes on a search to see what in life has meaning apart from God. It's a fascinating study. Part of what makes the book so fascinating is the writer's unique qualifications to search out this question. Imagine a man that is:
  • wealthy like Warren Buffet
  • surrounded by more women than Hugh Heffner
  • More wise than Socrates and the great philosophers
The search for meaning is the subject of  The "Meaningless" sermon series at Holy Cross PCA in Staunton. The series preached by my pastor and friend Rick Gilmartin is well the listen, and you can find the link here

In fact, I think the series could be so life changing for you that I'll issue you a challenge. If you choose one of the sermons and listen to it, I'll take you our for coffee or (a very cheap) lunch to discuss it. 

I write these blogs as conversation starters. I would love to hear how you define the meaning of life. 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five crazy kids and a freelance writer for,, Young Life Relationships and other publications. Moody Publishers released his first book in July of 2013. You can read about You're Grounded here.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Things I Would Tell Local Rappers

"I'm from a town that they fly through but never fly to/Just a plain little town, trying to be fly, too." - Swoope '

In the 1980s, hip-hop legends Mc Shan and KRS-One got in a heated rap battle over whether hip-hop originated in Queensbridge or the South Bronx. 

One thing we know for sure. Hip-hop didn't originate in Staunton, Va. Still, many of my friends in the 24401 have dreams about having a hip-hop career. As someone who grew up loving hip-hop and a person who uses words a lot, I have so much I want to talk to the young apsiring artists about in terms of pursuing a hip-hop career. 

I couldn't fit them all in a blog, so I chose these five: 

1. Pursue Your Dream!  Let's just be honest. Failure is both scary and painful. Rejection hurts.  To keep from experiencing those emotions, we tend to never really go all in on any of our dreams. If you really want to be a hip-hop artist, you have to realize that the road to that dream has many painful detours. If it's really your dream, go all in on your dream. When you experience setbacks or rejections, know that every artist who made it had those same setbacks along the way. 

2. Grind while you're dreaming.  It takes a while for music to become profitable, but a lot of the time bills can't wait. Imagine a job is like a boat and your dream career of being a hip-hop artist is like a raft. You have to be on the boat, but all your free time should be spent building your raft. You need a legit revenue stream until music pops off for you, but that doesn't mean you have to give up on your dream. So ... in the meantime,  get a job! 

3. Create your own media outlets. Despite being a small town, there are lots of hip-hop artists and lots of hip-hop fans. If all the area rappers came together once a month for a 16-bar challenge and charged audience members $3 to come, you have created your own revenue stream with your own talent. Plus, you would get the practice you need competing and performing.  Making something out of relatively nothing has always been the hip-hop way. You (area rappers collectively) could be combining your talents and resources and making revenue now.  If there's no radio that will play local rap music, someone could easily create a local hip-hop blog and podcast that interviews the local artists and features their music. Put together a one-day hip-hop conference that teaches how to write lyrics, make beats, etc. It is true that it's not the easiest place to be a hip-hop artist, but you should still exhaust all the resources you have available to you. Bottom line. Take your talent and create your own revenue streams. 

4. Keep it 100. You can't say you're a serious rapper if you write songs once in a blue moon and you never work at getting better. If it is really your dream, you need to learn the business side of the industry. And if you're in school, you need to be in the choral classes, drama department and the band. All things that relate to your career. How could you want to make rap videos and not take the classes that will help you be a better actor? You have to always get better. Have you learned how to change your voice to reflect the mood of a song? Have you learned to get your cadence to match the drum patterns? Raw talent isn't enough. Keep improving as an artist! 

5. Make responsible art. Music has staying power. If I were to say, "In West Philadelphia born and raised," you would know exactly how to respond. Those words are likely lodged in your head for the rest of your life. In a sense, the rapper is like the pied piper to a community. I don't mind rappers rapping about real life and real circumstances, but if you are glorifying the demeaning of women, the selling of drugs and the hypermasculine, gun-toting, super-rich thug guy, you are making art that is potentially destroying its listeners. Take your responsibility as an artist seriously. Make music that inspires and uplifts broken communities. 

The video below is by a dude named Spec. I love it, because it just lays out the ups and downs in his journey into the music industry. Hopefully, it will be inspirational for some of y'all. 

I write these blogs as conversation-starters.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this blog post or other insight you may have for aspiring artists. 

Chris Lassiter is a Christ-follower, a husband to Emily (read her blog here), a father to five crazy kids, a freelance writer, and a Young Life leader in his hometown of Staunton, VA. Moody Publications published his first book, You're Grounded, in 2013. You can read about it here.