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There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
– Galatians 3:28
I had a dream last night that deeply disturbed me. I won’t go into detail about the dream, because it won’t make much sense to you. What I will tell you, however, is what I discovered about myself as a result of having this dream.
I’ve always been the type of person to run away from difficult situations. In high school, my m.o. was “I don’t have time for drama”; and as a result, I made a point avoid those people whom I felt caused the most drama. Also, several times throughout my education, I’ve had teachers whom I felt were unqualified or unjust. Instead rising above my circumstances, I accepted a low mark in those courses after mentally withdrawing myself from them.
Whether it was out of fear, pride, or fear rooted in pride, I’ve always been a runner. If my life was a track, I’d be Marion Jones (minus the drugs). I have missed out on a lot of opportunities in my life by running away from my hurdles instead of confronting them.
As I thought about my dilemma some more, I realized that a lot of people’s problems exist as a result of running. The bible says, in James 4, to resist the enemy and he will flee. It never says to flee from the enemy, and eventually, he’ll get tired of chasing you. In fact, when YOU finally grow weary from running, he’ll be standing rite there waiting.
Don’t wait until you’re tired of running and out of breath to fight the enemy. Confront him while you’re full of energy with the assurance that God will make up for the places where you lack. Yes, you have shortcomings. No, you will not be able to resist the devil on your own. But that’s the beauty of God’s grace. He will never give you more than you and handle; so, be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46). Hang in there!
Soulful songster, B.Reith, has a voice that’s as refreshing as a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. For a limited time only, you can download his EP on Amazon for FREE or you can download his full-length album, Now Is Not Forever, at the discounted price of $5. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to buy the album and support this very talented artist. He is a rare gem in the world of Christian music and I can guarantee that the album will not disappoint. Enjoy! :)
Rapper, Swoope, recently released his first music project under the label Collision Records, a 4 song EP titled Applause Vol. 1. In these songs, Swoope talks about the struggle with pride that those in the public sphere, particularly music artists, usually face as they rise in notoriety. Sonically, this EP is one of the dopest musical releases to come out of the Christian music community as of late. The production on tracks, such as the title song “Applause”, is vaguely reminiscent of something you might hear on a Kanye West or Drake album, which is quite fitting considering the subjective matter. Overall, this is an ingenious body of work and I strongly advise you to check it out.
Click here to download Applause Vol. 1
As I sat down to write this letter, I wasn’t sure how I would find the words. I knew what I wanted to say, but I wasn’t sure how to convey it. A certain story from the bible instantly came to mind. You might already know it; it’s called “The Prodigal Son”. You’re probably thinking, “Come on, (wo)man! What more could you possibly tell me about the prodigal son? That story is so played!” Well, I get your frustration. I myself have heard this same story taught the same exact way, over and OVER again. Don’t worry; I’m not about to get boring or cliché on y’all. I just want you to look at the story from a different perspective.
(In my best preacher voice) If you have your bible, turn with me to the book of Luke, chapter 15, and verses 11 through 32. The part of that passage I’d like to focus on is verses 25 through 32. A lot of people read this part of the story and turn up their nose at the obedient son. “How dare he treat his brother like that?” BLEEP! Look at it again. Did the father chastise his son for being angry? No. Did he shrug him off and continue on with the celebration? No. He ADDRESSED his son’s anger with compassion and rationality. What’s the point in me bringing this up? Hang in there.
Let me share a piece of my testimony with you. From as far back as my memory stretches (not my whole life), my family has attended the same church. I was always active in some regard, whether it was singing on the children’s choir, dancing on the dance ministry, or attending Tuesday night bible studies. I was a pretty decent kid when you consider all of the external factors. I was mild mannered, quite intelligent, and generally, well behaved. To the outside world, definitely not to my family, I was the perfect child. However, because my wounds weren’t external, for a long time, they went untreated.
Unlike my peers, I wasn’t out having sex, partying, and drinking (fast forward to adolescence). While a number of factors contributed to this, I liked to believe it was because I was a “good kid”. Yes, I cursed like a sailor around my friends, but I was a “good kid”. Yes, I had inappropriate thoughts and dreams on a regular basis, but I was a “good kid”. Yes, I was skating by in school while putting forth the least possible effort, but I was a “good kid”. Yes, I listened to Uncle Luke-esque music with the grimiest lyrics possible, but…I think you’re getting the point. Because all of my issues didn’t put me out on “Front St.”, especially at church, I’d convinced everyone that I was good. I had halfway convinced myself. But tell me, how does a “good kid” reach the point of hating her life and nearly committing suicide, as a result? I’ll tell you. When people can’t see past the exterior.
A week after my almost suicide attempt, I took the brave step of rededicating my life to Christ in front of my entire church. Needless to say, quite a few people were confused. Why is this girl who is active and comes to church every Sunday rededicating her life to Christ? Is she having sex? She doesn’t look pregnant (you know that’s the first thing that pops into people’s minds). No, I wasn’t having sex, but my life was completely shattered. Everything about me was dysfunctional and unhealthy, which meant that absolute DEATH was around the corner. I needed to make a change and stop worrying about what people thought of me. I needed something that was real.
One of the many things that I love about the Father is his ability to see past our appearances. Your church, friends, and family might not be able to see over the walls that you’ve built, but he can. In fact, He’s positioned so high above us that you can build your walls as tall as the Tower of Babel and he can STILL see over them. He’s also positioned so closely beside us, that He can feel our pain even before we can (hence, the cross). At this point in your life, you might not see this as amazing but rather frustrating. However, get to a place where you’re desperate enough, and believe me, you’ll see it as a blessing. Unlike human beings, the Father has the ability to cater to all of His children’s needs at the same time. So while everyone’s doing cartwheels and jumping jacks over Lil Ray Ray walking down the aisle, the Father can celebrate him and still see you hurting. He knows all of your darkest secrets and internal struggles. No, your family probably won’t pay you any attention until you do something drastic, but don’t fret over that. I understand that it’s hard to see your situation clearly, when you’re at such a vulnerable state. Everyone seems to be your worst enemy. Well, the Father isn’t. Run full speed into His arms and I guarantee that he’ll catch you and never let you go.
I’d like to direct these next words towards all of the youth pastors, parents, and mentors who might be reading this. Don’t neglect your good children. They might have perfect grades in school and be active at church, but they could very well be crumbling on the inside. While you’re spending more time with the needy children, the others could be slipping between the cracks. At a young age, children don’t see things from the perspective of “they need it more than me”. No, you cannot apply your grown up logic to their young, developing minds. You have to be extra sensitive to the fact that all of your children have needs, though some might be more obvious than others. Dig deep! And when deep isn’t enough, dig deeper! Don’t be so quick to silence your kids when they’re upset, for that’s the best time to learn what they’re really thinking. I’m not saying that it’s cool for them to be disrespectful, because that definitely needs to be handled. But if you learn to encourage regular dialogue, they might not feel the need to act out for your attention.
This article isn’t a one-stop shop for every young person’s problems, but I hope it’s a wake up call for some. When you say “come as you are”, be sure that you mean it from both ends of the spectrum. Don’t speculate and exaggerate their issues; I can guarantee that doing those things will turn them off. Let them express their feelings and thoughts before they become self-destructive actions. Remember the common saying, “believe half of what you hear and none of what you see.” It’ll definitely help you in dealing with young people. At least, I know it would’ve helped my family with understanding me in those turbulent years. They weren’t that long ago, but I can definitely say that they’re far behind me. All glory to God! Thank you for letting me share my story with you. Be blessed! And no matter what, never give a bleep!
10. Knine – Robots Have Feelings Too
9. Jin – Say Something
8. Eternal Life Music – Self Titled
7. S.O. – The Five Solas
6. JustWORD – The Transfiguration
5. Ackdavis – Downtime
4. Jerrell Johnson – Peanut Butter & Jealousy
3. Dee-1 – I Hope They Hear Me Vol. 2
2. JusThoughtZ – A Memorable Experience
1. Jerrell Johnson – The Green Screen
Click the covers to get the download links. Enjoy! :)