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Rich Perez is the pastor of Christ Crucified Fellowship in (Washington Heights) New York City.

“My soul takes boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad” As a native New Yorker it’s tough seeing others get the glory or recognition that you would like to be getting. Humility is not the cup we often, if at all, drink. If we are entirely honest, we’d admit that we want as many “likes” on our statuses as the next person. We want as many following up on us and we want as many re-tweeting our self – proclaimed clever and witty statements on Twitter.
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Read Part 1 of this article here.

Leonce Crump II is the pastor at Renovation Church in Atlanta Georgia.

This is the lynchpin, because He chose us before the foundation of the world, and in love, He predestined us for adoption. So we are predestined, chosen, and adopted. Before the concept of time itself existed, before the Evil One turned in pride from God to his own works, before the unveiling of creation itself…God chose His children.   Now, I want to slow down, and pause, so that you absorb the great, cosmic, joy-laden words of Paul here…so that you can soak in what is being communicated here. As far back as imagination will allow, before the dawn of time, it was there that God chooses us.    Are you feeling the very tangible weight of such a statement? Do you understand all of the implications of this, that the Father chose us before He even created us? What a glorious realization!
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A Preface for my Christ Family

Recently, I had the chance to read an article in XXL Magazine, which had the potential to excite me because it focused on Christian rap, but in the end somewhat disappointed and even grieved me. Internally, I was restless until finally deeming it necessary to respond for the sake of the glory of Christ, the benefit of His people, and the benefit of the mission to reach hip hop with the gospel.
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John Onwuchekwa is the pastor at Blueprint Church in Atlanta, GA.

Here’s the problem
Had a conversation with a good friend of mine this past week as we were on the back porch grilling. Having just celebrated a birthday, we were talking about the “good ole days” and what’s wrong with these “young bucks” nowadays. My good friend shared with me a story about a guy he had a conversation with. He asked the younger guy what he was “learning.” The younger dude responded by recounting all the books he was reading, restating all of the quotes that he tweeted from the books that he read. When he got done, my friend repeated the question, “so what are you learning?
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design by Jermaine Haggerty

Rich Perez is the pastor of Christ Crucified Fellowship in (Washington Heights) New York City.

A Gospel Community: A Re-Emphasis on Mission

Right teaching leads to right practice. Gospel intake should lead us to gospel living. Enlightened and transformed by the light of the gospel message, with Jesus as it's center, we are not merely encouraged, but rather mandated by it to live a lifestyle of missions.
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A breakdown & insight of one of the most important projects in Christian Hip-Hop history.

One of the biggest gripes with Christian hip-hop is its’ lack of creativity. Either there’s a barrage of Reach/Lampmode clones or a desperate attempt to latch onto trends secular hip-hop threw out the window several years prior (*glares at auto-tune/screwed up hooks & trap beats*). For there to be such an assortment of rappers that are certain God called them to preach the Gospel, it seems a large part have fallen into the trap of saying the same thing in the exact same way.
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illustration by hype-ography.com

Leonce Crump II is the pastor at Renovation Church in Atlanta Georgia.

In 1 John chapter 3 verse 1, the apostle John writes, "see what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are."

This phrase, what kind of love, literally translates “unearthly, foreign, other-worldly.” This love the Father gives us is so unparalleled, and John so astonished that he wonders aloud “where did this come from?”
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illustration by hype-ography.com

Adam Thomason is the Pastor of Damascus Road Church in Flint, Michigan and CEO of Collision Records.

Urban ministry and urban contexts are often treated like a zoo—people come, visit for a short time, take pictures of animals in their cages, leave, and do a show and tell with some of their friends back home. For many people that’s where it ends.
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Earlier this summer Nas, one of mainstream hip hop's most critically acclaimed rappers, released a new album called Life is Good. Despite how long this Queens, New York-bred emcee has been in the rap game, his album was surprisingly relevant, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts. This week, however, his "street cred" took a hit amid allegations that he used a ghostwriter for his 2008 Untitled album. For other artists (dare I say, most artists?), this wouldn't be a big shock. But Nas is one of hip hop's favorite sons and is believed to represent the pureness of poetic art form. So, everyone went crazy.
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1. People with different theologies collide and unite for one purpose:
Artists like shai linne and Rhema Soul can both enjoy fellowship at Flavor Fest. Pastor Rick Warren and Pastor Eric Mason have both been speakers at the conference. Flavor Fest doesn’t have a double standard and promote one type of artist over the other. This may be a taboo analysis but those with Calvinist content meet face to face with those who have Arminian content in their music. That’s rare in most events. Christian Hip-Hop is a beautiful melting pot and without the Fest we would probably never see its true potential on a consistent basis.
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So, apparently, one of hip hop’s most recognizable artists has changed his name. Yes, “Snoop Dogg” is now “Snoop Lion” The legendary emcee is reportedly done with hip hop and openly embracing reggae as home for his musical talents. Of course, it’s very easy to make fun of this as we have done with some of the other pop culture name changes. But Snoop insists that this is “the elevation” of his persona and points to his journey to a Jamaican Rastafarian temple as his inspiration for the upgrade. He even said, “I wanna bury Snoop Dogg.” Interesting.
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“My name is Vice Versa, I’m just a young man of God, a father, husband…” I heard him say. “My intentions are to preach the gospel through the vehicle of music to the saved and unsaved, that’s where the name Vice Vrsa originates, to be able to do it on both spectrums.”

James Lilly III (23) was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His death from a motorcycle accident on Sunday, 5th August 2012 has seen sympathies and prayers stream in to his wife, daughters, extended family and fellow stable mate, Viktory.
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Is it ever too early to compile an “albums of the year” candidates list? Of course not! 2012 has already been a memorable year for Christian Hip Hop, and the second half only promises to get better. There are some clearly obvious candidates in the mix for best project so far (Lecrae, Beautiful Eulogy, Swoope, Wit & Dre Murray), but I prefer to focus on some of the more under-appreciated albums that may not make our top 5 or top 10 list when the year is over. So here are 10 projects that may not make my final 2012 list but were definitely noteworthy:
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Now there’s a lot of bad b----s in the building, Amen!
A couple real n----s in the building, Amen!
I’m finna kill n----s in the building, Amen!
I tell the waiter, “Fifty Bottles,” and she tell me, “Say When”
and I say CHURCH (Preach!)


Sounds like a sermon to me. (Truth is, I’ve heard some pretty outrageous sermons before that come pretty close to this). And it raises an interesting question for the Church: How much of pop culture is okay to use in discussing God? That’s a mighty debate.
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Every once and while there are some watershed moments that show us a picture of what's going on in our culture. The last one we had was when 50 Cent & Kanye West clashed. It wasn't a clash on a song or at the club, but this battle happened at the retailer spots where their music was available. That sales battle was a battle not necessarily of skill, talent or even marketing as much as it was a battle over the prevailing ideas of American culture.
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New Hot 97.9 FM in Philadelphia lived up to its namesake recently, as the radio station’s Q-Deezy Show played host to a heated debate between rap star Meek Mill and Philadelphia Pastor Jomo K. Johnson.

The controversy surrounded Mill’s song, “Amen,” off his recent Dreamchasers 2 mixtape, with Johnson calling for a boycott of Mill’s music.

If you haven't heard the song, we don't encourage you to seek it out however we want to provide context and background for this article and will quote the hook on the song:
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The undercurrents of dissatisfaction concerning the absence of substance in the lyrical content of secular Hip-Hop today is fueling the advancement of Christian-influenced Hip-Hop. In addition to the growing number of talented, hard-hitting Christian-influenced rappers who are making no apologies for their Savior or their skills.

Some time in the 2000's the decline of authenticity in secular Hip-Hop began and the ascension of substance in Christian-influenced Hip-Hop started. Now the reasons for the decline of one and the rise of the other are still unclear. Perhaps it was when secular rappers began their venture into reality television, clothing lines, energy drinks, headphones, and the overall obsession with branding and mogul-dom, that the passion for rhyming took a backseat.
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It's time for you to stop rapping.

Let that settle in for a second.

For some of you reading this article that was the most liberating thing you've heard in weeks. But it's time. There are a myriad of reasons that explain why it's time for you to stop rapping but right now you just need to embrace the joyous, liberating reality of your musical retirement.

For some, you need to hear the reality of something you know deep down is true but no one around you has the guts to tell you: you're just not that good. And I'm not talking to people just starting out and trying to sharpen your craft. You're off the hook here. I'm talking to you Mr. / Mrs. / Ms. 3 to 4 albums strong and all just aren't that good. No one is saying you're a bad person, but plenty of people are saying behind your back what you need to hear to your face - you're not a good rapper and you haven't been one for a while now. Deep down, you know it’s true but pride won't let you accept it. Well allow me to be the voice of reason, conscious and honesty - you're not that good and it's time for you to stop rapping. I'm not being mean but, for once someone is telling you the honest truth you've been waiting to hear and it’s time to hang up the pen, blackberry, iPad "Notes" app or whatever you use to write rhymes with. But hang on with me, I'll go deeper with you in a minute.
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If you want to listen to the radio or watch or read a newspaper you have A LOT of choices ... right? You can watch MTV, BET, CMT, NBC, ABC, ESPN, CNN, HBO, Nick Jr., etc. That sounds like a lot of choices when flipping through the channels on TV. Do you notice that most of the shows are the same concepts, just with
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I haven’t seen this much buzz in the Christian Hip-Hop community since … well, since Lecrae performed on the 2012 BET Hip Hop Awards. With the most highly anticipated Christian Hip-Hop mixtape now here, we ask what happens after the music stops on Church Clothes (puns intended).

1. Will 'Church Clothes' open the door for
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I hate it when people whose opinions I really respect disagree on an issue.

So this whole “Are you a Christian rapper or not?” debate has been a little stressful and saddening for me. I’m watching artists who have played a role in my own growth and sanctification land at different places on this topic.

In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Instead of writing a piece that argues for one view or another, I wanted to share some of the questions I’ve asked myself as I have tried to think through the “Christian rapper” label issue biblically.
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When the Billboard charts came out last week, there was a rap album that debuted impressively high (No. 3 on the Rap Albums chart, No. 17 on the 200) despite not having much mainstream hip-hop exposure. That project was The Good Life, the fourth album from Trip Lee. The rapper is signed to the growing independent label Reach Records, an Atlanta based team of
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Photo by YourMusicZone.com

#1: Major publicity.

Lecrae has garnered major publicity not only in Christian music but in the mainstream media. He performed on the BET Awards Cypha and was mentioned as a stand out. He performed on Paid Dues, the mainstream markets largest U.S. hip hop festival, and has garnered publicity on all major hip hop media outlets in the mainstream market.
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At 15 years old, KIDD is the youngest rapper we know representing Christ. His talent far surpasses his age! Born and raised in Las Vegas aka Sin City, this youngster is a part of a growing music scene of Christian's that are shining the light of Christ in a place bursting with gambling
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It’s been a surreal couple of weeks along the Gulf Coast. We have had the Coast Guard helicopter crash that killed 4 servicemen and just last week we had a young man who committed suicide. Even though the Coast Guard accident was tragic the suicide
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“I’m Good” was one of the last songs to be recorded for my new album, The Good Life. Lecrae and I actually wrote and recorded an entirely different song, and we liked it at first. But eventually we decided it was just pretty good; and we wanted to put out something great. So I played a few beats for him that
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Suzy Rock has been impressing us for the last few years with her guest appearances both singing and rapping. Her delivery offers alot of variety, at times you'll get an authentic ATL accent with heavy hitting
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There are many things that you can see on the internet that just gets your mind buzzin’. Within the last few weeks we have seen videos on KONY2012, “Why I hate Religion, But Love Jesus”, “Why I hate Religion, buy love Jesus (Muslim version), etc. Do I really need to start on the Presidential candidates? I mean seriously. What and who do you believe? Is everything we see or hear propaganda? I know of one thing that you can bet your life on… let’s talk about it.

This article started as a conversation with someone many of you have heard of, FLAME! If you haven’t heard of FLAME then you will not know that he just dropped his 6th album called The 6th. The 6th is an album that all of you should pick up. Solid lyrics with solid beats make this a must buy. That being said there is one song on there that really got me thinking. The song is called “Scripture Alone”.

When chatting with FLAME I found out one thing about him that is abundantly clear. He believes with no doubt that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. Not compromising and with no error. See this would seem to be the norm for most Christians but it isn’t. As FLAME drops knowledge on this track there is no substitution for the word of God. 40 authors in 3 different languages for 66 books and it is perfect.

FLAME states it like this “The real force behind this record is my desire to understand Anthropology, the study of mankind, and how it relates to our relationship with Christ. Jesus came to Earth and spoke with authority to men and women. His word is black and white. It is in your face much like hip hop. I’ve definitely had my own tragic events in my lifetime but when I came to Christ, I repented and he saved me. It was at that point that I made the decision to keep with the rap game but to honor God through it.”

Let’s jump in and see what we can learn from FLAME track “Scripture Alone”:

I can hear your question homie “is that book reliable?”
Yes it is the testaments are very verifiable
What do you believe in? What do you abide by?
Maybe it’s a mixture of different stuff – tye dye
You boys are all syncretist, sinking in your own thoughts
The book that I hold to, cohesive and never off
Saying my book carrying lies but it’s quite the contrary
66 Holy scripts it’s more like a library
Written by by 40 authors in 3 different languages
English is not one of them Greek and Hebrew surely is
Inspired and inerrant, woah what does that mean?
It’s from God and without error in absolutely everything
Yeah it addresses class in session boy I hope you learn something
Hear them lies from the other guys boy I hope you turn from ‘em
Why does it matter though, if the Bible is false or true?
Matter fact before you answer that let me caution you
Don’t play with epistemology homie we need absolutes
If there’s no such thing as truth then…
He can do what he wanna do
She can do what she wanna do
And can’t nobody say nothing
If a killer pull them choppers out and feel like spraying something
Ain’t nobody say it’s wrong and we all know that’s a lie
Somebody outside of us has to speak and rectify
That’s just what God did in the Christian Holy Book
Why don’t you crack it open sit down take a look

God is communicating with us man, the Bible is the most thoroughly documented book work
of all antiquity. If we can’t trust in the Bible we can’t trust nothing. Let’s go!

Why they give my book a hard time? Especially the New Testament
Bi-textual variance that’s utterly irrelevant
To the proper understanding and translation of the text
Yes with more manuscripts there are more variants
But the more the merrier Homie this not a threat
This is strong evidence we possess the original text
Having these manuscripts, different areas different times
Yet they all testify to the same text
God is so_____________ Ain’t no words to explain
How he preserved his words through desert, plains, and heavy rains
But they trying to tell us that the Bible’s been corrupted
I say they are misinformed and they might as well cut it
See FLAME is bout to go deep and I ain’t talking scuba gear
I’m talking real scholarly bought to bring some proof in here
P75 codex vaticanus
These are two manuscripts from scriptures in the canon
And when I say canon I ain’t talking bout “BOOM!”
But the collection of books that will function as the rule
Back to P75 it’s from the second century
The other one is from the fourth sorry for the history
150 years these copies are separated
But it’s so fascinating how they are so closely related
There is not team either controlling the transmission
Just God and His Holy Spirit looking out for his Christians!

Woah! Good stuff for sure. There are many different ways we can go with this but there are
three main points we should make:

1) The scripture alone discusses that what is written is the truth. In John 17:17 it says “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” No matter what the world tries to tell us our faith in the Bible being truth is secure. It’s black and white and clear.

2) The criticism that comes from non-Christians is expected. The criticism will be confrontational but can’t be trusted. In Psalm 25:5 God’s word says “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I will wait all the daylong.” Truth will prevail.

3) The truth guarantees us our future. Trusting in Jesus Christ guarantees our inheritance which is eternal life. Ephesians 1:13-14 says “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

There are many things that are said to us in our lives that just aren’t right. We can find absolute truth, as FLAME speaks about, through God’s Holy Word. We should not leave this world the same way we found it. Let’s make a difference!

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