What do you get when you combine a church youth group, a live DJ, a pastor, and some raunchy rap music? Youth leaders at the Ephesus SDA Church in Columbus, OH recently found out.Read More
I spent the last two days listening to some of the most brilliant minds in Hip-Hop scholarship at the OSU Hip-Hop Literacies Conference. This is the gist of what I observed from my corner of the room.Read More
What do you say when the neat little framework for spiritual development is not enough? Let's face it, we have no action plan and no framework for ministry to people from the hood who are unchurched.Read More
Here's the 8th and final installment in the God Loves Hip-Hop discussion series. This discussion will serve as the preview for our seminar at the annual Pastors Evangelism Leadership Conference in Huntsville, AL on Dec. 8. Join the discussion on twitter #GodLovesHipHop.
Remember Biggie's song "10 Crack Commandments?" We memorized that song as a sacred psalm and held people accountable to its teachings. What are our frameworks, tools, processes, and systems for spiritual growth? If Biggie can systematize selling crack, surely there can be some sort of system for growing in the faith.Read More
People Keep asking me about it so here it is...We're practically working around the clock to bring you all of the great pieces that you've seen in the
and more in one volume. Putting together a project of this magnitude always comes with some challenges so lift up a prayer for us. Nevertheless, you should have it in your hands very very soon. We'll intend to have pre-order options before the end of October.
Along with a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University, she received her Doctor of ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary with a research emphasis on Youth, Family and Culture. She currently serves as the Senior Pastor of the 16th Street SDA Church in San Bernardino, CA. She is married to Pastor Kurt King and they have two young children. You can follow her on twitter @andreaking or visit her website at www.pastorandrea.com.
God Loves Artistry
strike like lightning and don't need thunder
imagination and breathe wonder
|Both the Antelope Canyon (top) and|
the Danxia landform are God's own
works of artistic genius and creativity.
|Eminem is widely respected as one of the most gifted |
lyricists in the history of rap music. He has mastered
the art of word-play as well as delivery.
|While speaking at Rosa Park's funeral in 2005, Al Sharpton|
challenged rappers to clean up their act. While rappers often
claim to "keep it real," others urge for them to "get it right."
Here's the highly anticipated #GodLovesHipHop discussion number 6. In this conversation we feature long-time rap artists, DJs, and producers who demonstrate deep commitment to
Hip-Hop through their artistry, as well as to the church because they perform with the intent to edify and expand the Kingdom of God.
Please use the hashtag #GodLovesHipHop for twitter feedback or visit the google+ event page to ask a question live.
I'm amped and excited because we're adding a new piece to the God Loves Hip-Hop Series. You've already been following the Why We Need Hip-Hop series. Well now we begin a series of posts about Why God Loves Hip-Hop. And this first post "God Loves the World" is from a good friend of mine, Kurtley Elliott Knight. Kurtley is an exceptionally gifted communicator. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University and currently serves as the pastor of the Hillcrest SDA Church in Pittsburgh, PA.
The statement that God loves the world is so often spoken by Christians that most people, even atheists, are familiar with its claim.
So popular is the statement that today it’s nearly impossible to walk into a church and not hear some language grounded in this fundamental truth.
As a pastor I think it’s great that many people know the statement.
The real question however, is do we comprehend what it means for God to love “the world?”
What is this “world” that God loves?
Moreover, what are the implications that arise from God loving “the world” for Christian theology and praxis, especially in relation to our topic of God loving Hip-Hop?
In the pages that follow I’d like to suggest that God loves the entire creation.
This includes all of humanity and everything associated with it.
He loves human language, culture, art, literature and systems.
He is intricately involved in the world as Sovereign, using what’s in the world to achieve His ultimate goal of reconciling the world to Himself.
This holistic perspective I believe, opens our eyes to God’s activity around us, providing us with rich resources for Christian spirituality and ministry.
Coming to this conclusion is not easy and will require a redefinition of “the world.”
For this, we’ll peek through the lenses of Hebraic monotheism, which claims God’s sovereignty over the universe.
This perspective will help to clarify that all things (with the exception of the pagan) are sacred.
With this in the background, we’ll briefly explore God’s love
as described in John’s writings.
Lastly, we’ll briefly discuss the implications of the theological framework.
The Sovereignty of God
Usually when most people talk about God loving the world, it’s within the narrow confines of a personal and private spirituality.
Although this perspective is certainly true, it doesn’t tell the whole truth.
Rather it implies a modern dualism that promotes a sacred versus secular divide. This divide prevents God from loving all the world (as I’ve described above), because it’s seen as being outside of and thus empty of God (hence the word secular).
This however was not the Hebraic worldview as expressed in the monotheistic biblical confession, called
(Hear, O Israel):
“Hear, O Israel: The
our God, the
your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Remember, this was authored as the Children of Israel are preceding to cross the Jordan River.
They are within the context of a polytheistic culture where there was a god for every aspect of life (weather, rivers, harvest, etc.).
These gods controlled not only their assigned area of life but also brought to the same meaning.
Yet the ancient Hebrew won’t hear any of this.
To her Yahweh is not just the god of the weather, the rivers, the harvest, or anything else.
He is God over all, thus giving Him access and oversight into all areas of life.
This is in part what the text means by saying that, “The Lord is One!”
This declaration is a direct affront to the claims of other gods, while simultaneously embracing the sovereignty of Yahweh over everything.
When God used Moses to invoke the 12 plagues, He put Pharaoh and all
off Egypt on notice that He is Sovereign LORD over all created things.
The Hebrews developed this worldview during their exodus from Egypt. The plagues brought upon Egypt weren’t simply arbitrary punishments inflicted upon the Egyptian economy for their insolence.
They were demonstrations of God’s victory over the gods of that culture and hence the world.
Every time Yahweh turned the Nile River into blood, caused fiery hail to rain endlessly, or engulfed the countryside in the thickness of darkness with no end in sight He was saying something.
It was Yahweh planting His flag in the ground saying, “I’m sovereign over all the world and therefore can use the things within the world for my redemptive purposes.”
This is the very meaning of what it means to be a Christian monotheist.
is more than an ontological claim descripting the nature of God, but rather a theological lens to view all of life as under God.
The missiologist and church planter, Alan Hirsch, identifies the outcome of such a theology. He states, “A genuinely messianic monotheism therefore breaks down any notions of a false separation between "the “sacred’ and the “secular.”
If the world and all in it belongs to God, and comes under his direct claim over it in and through Jesus, then there can be no sphere of life that is not radically open to the rule of God.
There can be no-God area in our lives and in our culture.”
What exactly does this mean?
It means that God is sovereign over “all” the earth because “all the earth” is under Him.
It means that “the world” that God loves is not limited to any one area but everywhere.
Therefore, the sovereign God is free to show up anywhere He decides, without our permission.
For “from him and through him and to Him are all things (Rom. 13:36).
Moreover, it means that because of God’s sovereignty “the world” makes up the “sacred” (those things under God), while excluding the “profane,” the things that are against God.
God loves the world and everything
in it because it is His creation.
or “world “in ancient Greek can have several different meanings; including, the entire created universe, all of humanity and even refers to those who are alienated from God.
The Apostle John has an affinity for the word, repeatedly utilizing its various meanings within his gospel.
It’s true that he uses it in the latter negative sense “of those alienated from God” when he mentions that the world stands in judgment apart of Christ (John 16:8-11), that the world hates God (John 7:4), or referring to Satan as the ruler of the world (John 14:30).
Still, all these references (as well as others) only support the Hebraic monotheistic worldview.
The “profane” (those areas outside of God’s influence) though while literally called “the world” are, in fact, “the world that God loves.”
“The world” that God loves is His universal creation: that was made through Him and which He was apart (John 1:10), that He loves and does not condemn (John 3:16, 17), that He doesn’t want to take the disciples out of (John 17:15-18), that He brings light into which will shine as long as He’s present (John 9:5), that He removes the enemy from (John 12:31), and that He has conquered (John 16:33).
It’s the world that He doesn’t want to abandon, sending both His disciples and the Holy Spirit (John 16:25-27).
If God hates the world so much, if the world is such a terrible place, why go through all the trouble?
Furthermore, it’s this world and not heaven that is our final home (Rev. 21).
This creation that is loved by God includes all of humanity from across the globe.
This goes past just human beings; for how can we divorce human culture from human beings?
How can one be separated from the history, environment, and family that make up who one is?
This is impossible but what is attempted when we perceive God as just loving humanity but not everything associated with humanity, like culture.
Think about it.
It’s like a marine biologist trying to appreciate marine life while ignoring what the animals do under water.
The marine biologist who loves marine animals must also love the environment (or culture) in which those animals thrive.
If not, the biologist will not be able to truly love the animals because he or she lacks adequate understanding.
This is how I believe the apostle John perceives God’s love for the world.
God must love human culture (art, music, dance, literature, etc.) howbeit fallen because He loves human beings who are fallen.
He therefore cares about human systems and environments as He does the human being.
This coupled with the Christian monotheistic claim of God’s sovereignty gives us a broader perspective of God’s love and redemption.
God through Jesus Christ is sovereign over the entire world while loving and caring for it.
The combination of these two realities gives God not only power in the world but freedom to bring all things under his feet so that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:25, 28).
Why Does It Matter That God Loves The World?
The above theological framework carries with it several implications.
However, I will only list two here.
First, there must be a recognition that God works within the world.
While He is a supernatural being, we should see God as primarily working “naturally.”
Namely, using human beings; thus, working within human culture.
Just as ancient Israel confessed the Shema, we must confess that God is free to work however, wherever He desires; including the culture we live in.
This practically plays out when Christians cease using language that creates dualism between the church and the world.
The coined Christian verbiage of “us” versus “them” or “the church” versus “the world” isn’t beneficial.
It only serves to create a wall between the “good” people (Christians) and “bad” people (everyone else).
When this is done, there’s no way we can admit that God can work within the world.
Let’s not forget that we all are “bad” people. For “all have sinned…”
During the gold rush men became experts at finding gold.
In the same way, we must discern God's work in the world.
Second, there must be a responsibility to discern God within the world.
It’s one thing to confess that God can work within the world but it’s another thing to discern it.
Discernment is the ability to see through the gray of life, and identify the deeper value and quality of a thing.
In this case, the surrounding human culture and systems.
We must discern whether there is any value. We must discern whether or not the things within the world speak any truth.
If so, we must listen.
This is Paul’s meaning behind his comments to the Philippians, “
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Phil. 4:8).
This gives us license to survey all of the world in an attempt to identify its complex and sometimes hostile beauty.
We’re liberated to discern the working of God in the singing of birds, the serenity of a lake, the laws of government, the beauty of fine art, the thoughtfulness of literature, the fun of pop, the mellowness of jazz, and the realism of hip hop.
All of these areas and more are resources for Christian spirituality and ministry but only when we can discern God within them.
The theme of this essay has centered on God’s love for the world.
But what does that mean exactly?
In short, I’ve argued that God is sovereign over all creation and loves all creation.
This creation includes humanity along with its culture.
Therefore God who both is sovereign over and loves the world is free to use human culture in order to reconcile it.
This provides the Christian with rich resources for spirituality and ministry only one recognizing and discerns the movements of God.
God is out there right now working in the world.
He’s using artists, musicians, politicians, and anybody He can find (be they Christian or non-believers) to proclaim and defend truth.
As sovereign, He’s subverting the kingdoms of this world in order to establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
However strong, God enlists more help.
He enlists those who instead of criticizing the culture for its evils will, like Him, seek to subvert it with truth, hope and love.
This can happen on a large scale or a personal one.
The size of the participation is irrelevant.
What’s important is that the people of God seek to love everything that makes up the world, as God does.
The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church
(Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 94-95.
Here we go again with another piece in the God Loves Hip-Hop series. We are happy to have Dr. Delroy Brooks to add his expertise to our conversation. Dr. Brooks holds degrees from Oakwood University, Andrews University, and Fuller Theological Seminary. As a missiology specialist he demonstrates special commitment to evangelizing youth. He currently pastors the Juniper Avenue SDA Church in Fontana, California. Follow him on twitter @Dayufpasta.
|Reporters keep us aware of events in our community. |
Likewise, rappers give us updates from the ghetto.
I have been following the work and ministry of Dr. Frank Thomas for a few years now. I would even venture to say that I consider him a distant mentor in that he has been very gracious to me in supporting my writing ministry (he bought all three of my books), and he's given me great advice on a few occasions. Today I was blessed to hear him preach about humility and servanthood. But then who knew that he would be lecturing about Hip-Hop in his follow-up plenary. Needless to say, I was thoroughly blessed and surprised that he was pratically standing up there writing my dissertation for me given that the majority of his scholarly work is in homiletics and preaching. Trust me when I say this is gonna challenge you and bless you at the same time.
It would probably be impossible for me to go to bed after what I just saw. Technically, I shouldn't even be writing this considering the fact that we are on vacation. We drove down to South Florida at the start of the weekend to see my grandma and the rest of the fam. Among a list of other things like going to the beach and sitting out by grandma's lake, we already knew we wanted to see Fruitvale Station. Mental note: choose lighter entertainment for future vacations.
I knew I wasn't ready to face Oscar Grant, but as a leader and out of respect, I knew I needed to watch it. And that's the thing. I don't think the world is ready to face Oscar Grant. I'm certain mainstream America isn't. And I know the church isn't. The real tragedy is just that. We don't hear Oscar Grant. We have not sympathized with his struggle. And I can hear the Bill O'Reillys, Don Lemons, and Uncle Ruckuses of the world already. They will say, "Pull up your pants." "These are the consequences of your actions." "Nobody made you sell drugs." "You have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps."
These are the ones who assume that Oscar's got boots to begin with. And if he has boots, where does he get the straps? I don't know. I never had any straps. Ask your dad. Speaking of fathers, anybody notice that there was not even a mention of Oscar's dad in the movie? Anybody seen Oscar's dad? Tell him his son's looking for him.
To mainstream America Oscar is a problem. And it's not because he's a convicted felon, it's not even because he got into a fight on the train. The cops never even took the time to effectively assess the situation on the train. The cop was at level 10 from the moment he first laid eyes on Oscar. "Arrest them. These punks are going to jail" (paraphrase). The cop never listened to what he had to say.
I have often argued the same point about rap music. We refuse to listen to what they're saying. "It's just sex, money, and cars," says one pastor. Does it matter that he's white? Just admit that you're not really listening. And we're not listening for a number of reasons. But maybe it's just that we don't know how to listen. It really does seem like cops these days don't know how to listen. So often they will escalate, rather than deescalate a conflict. Fact is, we're not listening to Oscar Grant.
|In the film, Grant's daughter Tatiana begs him not to |
go out into the night because she's afraid he'll get hurt.
Speaking of trains. My son loves trains. He's a huge fan of Thomas and Friends, and he has lots of the little toy models of well...Thomas and his friends. Back in early spring, we took a road trip and drove all the way out to California. When you're driving out west you see A LOT of trains. I'm intrigued wondering where are all these trains coming from and going to. Little Christopher is convinced that they all go to Knapford Station. I seriously doubt it. Crazy thing, the route we drove took us through northern California. I looked at the map and was surprised how close we were to Oakland, San Fran, and thus of course, Fruitvale Station. Christopher wants to ride the train. I seriously don't want him to.
And there goes O'Reilly, Lemon, and Ruckus again. They say, "You black people are so paranoid." "Why don't you get over it?" "Let him ride the train." "Nothing's going to happen to him." But that's exactly what Oscar Grant's mom told him. She certainly didn't expect that her son's innocent train ride would be the last voluntary ride he would ever take. Kinda funny how something so innocent as riding the train to hang out with friends on New Year's, or going to the store to get snacks to munch on while you watch the game, can turn into a trip to the mortuary. White people don't normally have those kinds of problems, so they don't really get the fear, hopeless, helpless, nihilism thing. And they hate it when we say stuff like that.
And no, Oscar Grant was not a saint, so you may cast the first stone if you wish. However, Tracy and I agreed that we want to own the movie because we have a son who needs to learn why it's so important to make good decisions. Do the right thing. Stay on the straight and narrow. And if you must take that train ride, be careful because some stupid cop with no self-control might mistake his taser for his gun and murder you. I've never heard of this sort of thing happening to a white person. And yes Son, you can be anything you want. You can be an explorer who determines to ride every passenger train in the world. You can be a train conductor. Or you can be an engineer who designs and builds trains. But just know, you have to be ten times better than the next (white) man or you'll never get your just due. You could even rise to the highest office in the world, but you'll still be able to relate all too closely with the Trayvon Martins and Oscar Grants of the world. Maybe it's time we read a book about the underground railroad. You should probably work on those kinds of trains. Apparently we still need them.
I highly recommend that you read the entire chapter written by Dr. Park here. However, if you're short on time, What follows is my response to his work. There are a few points that I sought to respond directly to because I thought they were of prime significance. I post it here because one must know that racism (systematic, educational, institutional, and all the rest of its forms) are the bedrock of Hip-Hop culture. There would be no Hip-Hop without racism. Therefore it provides additional framework for the discussion in this blog. Here's a large portion of my response:
In Democracy Matters, Cornel West talks about the irony and the hypocrisy of the “American democratic experiment” in that the nation’s founders were trying to escape the empire while creating one of their own. They were seeking their own freedoms, yet simultaneously enslaving others. It’s a deeply harrowing concept to me. I’m inclined to suggest that the “experiment” had failed at it’s outset because it had compromised it’s own founding principles. Historically speaking, the concept of “liberty and justice for all” has never been an American reality. And so we continue to pledge our allegiance in the hopes that one day, someday, we will get it right. But what is the pledge exactly? We are taught to approach it like a prayer, when it’s actually a pronouncement and a promise—a promise that often seems to have been terribly, irreparably broken.
Dr. Park prescribes that “we need to accept each culture as it is.” This is an extremely tall order for dominant, normative culture. Blacks can relate to and appreciate Native Americans, Latino peoples (and others), because we each have been systematically terrorized and marginalized by the dominant group. Yet, normative culture lives in constant willful ignorance and denial of the realities that exist at their own hands. African-American culture is the house that oppression built.
|Rap music forces us to hear the heart, the hurt, |
the pathos and the pain of the projects.
Yet, that’s the beauty of African-American culture. We took lashes, and developed thick skin. We bent over to pick up cotton, and picked up an even stronger work ethic and resolve. We took the scraps that the slave master gave us, and made soul-food. We took those tattered and torn textbooks and dilapidated school-houses, and built brilliant scholars and HBCUs. We took the brick buildings, vacant lots, abandoned buildings and poor-excuse-for-playgrounds of the projects, and turned them into fortresses to incubate the next generation of overachievers, canvasses for urban art, dance floors for community parties and arenas for rap battles with perfect natural acoustics.
But one must not remain angry. Dr. Park presents a powerful hermeneutic of the cross and suggests that the dying to self demands “forsaking our outmoded identity means negotiating a new boundary by negating our old self that was negated by various oppressors.” He goes on to recommend that, “As long as we have racial prejudice within, we cannot fight against racism without.” I am convicted again that the cross renews us and demands that we like Christ would, despite the abuse, by the power of the resurrection, rise to walk in the newness of life—a life that is guided by grace. The grace of God has been so freely given to me. I must give it to those around me. This is hard, but God is love.
I am proud to present the long-awaited third installment in the Why We Need Hip-Hop series. This time we welcome guest columnist, Lester R. Collins Jr. Lester is originally from St. Paul, MN. As a child, he spent his summers in the projects of N. Philly. He attended Morehouse College and graduated from Oakwood University with a BS in Counseling Psychology. He holds masters degrees in both Divinity and Social Work. A published author, he wrote a devotional for teens titled, Going Green for God. He and his family live in the DFW area where he pursues a PhD in Social Work.
Everyone has struggled at times to find the right words to express themselves. People often say, “I know what I want to say, but I can’t find the right words.” Ever since 1973, Hip-Hop artists have been masters of the art of finding the right words. Hip-Hop showcases an array of artists who possess the aim and unique ability to uplift people and express themselves with authenticity and excellence.
|Rapper Rick Ross (William Roberts) has been heckled|
by the Hip-Hop community for posing as a gangster.
|Rappers are exceptional artists. They combine literary |
genius with charismatic flair in stage performances.