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

I vividly remember those moments when my self-esteem was considerably influenced by who I was friends with. Despite the fact that I played it cool and never gave the impression of worry or concern, those moments were very real and likewise their effects. But if you can, think back with me on those moments when a classmate, a teammate or just some kid down the block asked you to do something in order to hang with him/her or just be their friend. What did they ask you? Was what they asked worth friendship with them? How does what they ask inform you about them and their heart? Add a comment
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Much of our human existence is characterized by an obsession with "now". And while instant gratification and present pleasure seem to constantly stoke our temporal fires, the truth is that none of us can escape asking one vitally important looming question: "What happens to me after I die?" Hip Hop's connection to the afterlife is well-documented and has included the predictable ("I wonder if heaven got ghetto" from Tupac), the thoughtful ("That's what Heaven look like" from Kendrick Lamar or "Live in the Sky" from T.I.) and yes, even the bizarre (…too many to even name here).

Jay Z tried his hand at an answer while promoting the song "Heaven" from his upcoming new album 'Magna Carta Holy Grail'. In a brief video, the Roc Nation mogul gives his own theological take on God's dwelling place. Jay says:

"No matter what religion you are, like, accept other people's idea. Okay, cause have you ever been to heaven? Have you ever seen it? Just from my ideas, heaven is in your daughter's laughter. Hell can be if your child was missing for three minutes; you're in three minutes of hell. It's just not my beliefs that you know, a just God would make you burn for eternity for free will that He gave." Add a comment
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Leonce Crump II is the pastor at Renovation Church in Atlanta Georgia

I was recently invited to participate in an event as the guest speaker, and I said these words to a group of young men there. The event was called Camp Grace, a camp specifically for under-resourced, inner-city children. Many of the kids were from right around my neighborhood here in Atlanta, so it was a privilege to get to speak to them because who they become will not only affect their lives, but it may affect mine as well.

For them, these words have meaning because in their neighborhoods it is the strong or most violent that is counted courageous. The one who "Don't take no $#!@ off of nobody." But, if I could just get them to see that true courage is not always being able to win the fight, the argument, or the conflict by force, then it could fundamentally change how they interact with each other, and the other kids in their neighborhoods. Jesus is the perfect example of this type of courage and strength. Add a comment
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Last night I was in a silly mood. Maybe it was because it was my birthday and I was coming face to face with my ever shortening mortality. Maybe it was because I have some really big decisions hovering over my head and I just needed a mental retreat. Whatever the reason, the sillies were alive in my head. While I had the sillies, I came up with the idea of a Christian rap name "Crawse." It made me laugh to myself and I shared it with some people around me. We all laughed and then...it hit me. "I wonder what other people would add to the discussion of something called #badchristianrapnames." Add a comment
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Adam Thomason is the Pastor of Damascus Road Church in Flint, Michigan and CEO of Collision Records.

Belle Island—literally The Most Beautiful Island—was the most enchanted place to go to in Detroit from the 70’s-90’s. The island itself was seen as perfection. It had wild animals you could show your children, a zoo (if you needed something tamer), a mini theme park, a kite flying area, a lush botanical garden and green house. Belle Island was considered by many to be practically flawless. To the average kid or adult though, no one really cared how this Garden-of-Eden-feel was accomplished. Most just thought it was magical, as if the island took care of itself. All the majority cared about was partaking in its benefits with no concern of how and why such a place got to the state of beauty that was so consistently enthralling to experience and take from. Add a comment
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Trillia Newbell is a freelance journalist and writer. She writes on faith and family for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Desiring God, and serves as the managing editor for Women of God Magazine. Her love and primary role is that of a wife and mother. She lives in Tennessee with her husband Thern and their two children.

Solitaire was crafted to be played alone and writing is often something done in solitude. Those things are great to do alone. But for only a period. Eventually solitaire gets boring and writing for publication is never truly done alone (editors and others contribute). There are few things that are truly completed, sustained, and enjoyed completely alone. This is most definitely true of the Christian life. We might think we can make it on our own without the care of others, but we can’t. We will crumble under the weight and pressures of this world and our own flesh. It’s also not how God intended it to be. Add a comment
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My favorite teacher ever was my high school chemistry teacher Mr. Cuba. He wasn't a young, hip, cool teacher. In fact it was quite the opposite. Older, slim-ish build, and an uber nerd. Every year on Halloween he wore a full out Star Trek uniform to class. I mean the whole one piece, snug fitting uniform. He wasn't cool to us inner city kids but he was a favorite for many of us. But one thing he NEVER did with us was grade on a curve. If we got all of the questions on the test right, then he never wrote "Excellent!" or "Super Job!!" He would only write "satisfactory." You'd get 100% of the questions correct and he'd only put "satisfactory." Why? Well, his philosophy was "If I spent the last few days teaching it to you, and you got them all correct what's excellent about that? I taught it, now you know it so show it. That's satisfactory." So because of this he NEVER graded us on a curve. If we all got 100% then cool. If we all got 35% then that's what we earned. The standard is the standard and there's no point in changing it just because we all fell short. Either he needed to teach it better or we needed to pay attention more but either way there were NO curves. (And for the record, this was in an honors type of program). Add a comment
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Brian Dye is the founder and pastor of Legacy Fellowship Church, a multiplying house church movement in the city of Chicago.

I have spent my entire life living in two inner city neighborhoods of Chicago (Humboldt Park and West Garfield Park). It is easy to believe that God has abandoned these two communities due to the poverty, crime, lack of education, absence of fathers and hopelessness.

While many would want to avoid these two communities, I have come to understand God’s sovereignty in determining the boundaries of my dwelling place. God has invited me to be His presence for those seeking Him. God has invited me into His mission for those feeling their way towards Him.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:26-28) Add a comment
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Kanye West knows that religion is a topic that always sparks conversation. Obviously, when one of Hip-Hop’s biggest stars decides to name his album Yeezus, many people are going to have an opinion. While there have been conflicting reports to what the actual title is, No Malice of The Clipse, has added to the discussion on the representation of Jesus Christ in Hip-Hop.

“The Game’s Jesus Piece, Clipse’ Lord Willin’, Kanye’s album; before I had a personal knowledge and revelation of my Lord and Savior I was liable to do or say anything that a devout Christian may deem blasphemous,” No Malice told AllHipHop.com exclusively. “I put His head on a chain, flooded Him with diamonds then used that same chain to seduce women.” Add a comment
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Imagine this - you finally finish recording your album and it has been is mixed and mastered. Additionally, your artwork is complete and you are ready to promote your singles. The only issue that you experience revolves around the lack direction in regards to creating a buzz for your new album.

Currently the favored music sales model is single driven. ITunes, and most all digital retailers sell albums but most of the revenue is generated through individual songs sales. So what does this suggest?

The aforementioned paragraph suggests that you need to promote your singles. Your singles need to generate interest for your album. Below I will share 5 cost effective ways to promote your single. Add a comment
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Chris Broussard is officially a villain. Yes, he is an outcast, the latest in a long line of social pariahs deemed to be unworthy of the dignity of his own opinions. On Monday, Chris was called upon by his network ESPN to do his job, and was asked a series of questions in response to Jason Collins becoming the first openly gay athlete in any of the major sports. Add a comment
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