Why I wrote a book

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.