Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Cost of Cool (feat. Anthony Brown's "Worth")

Nowadays, social media plays a huge role in our lives, especially for millennials. We've been conditioned to measure our success, or lack thereof, next to the successes of others based on the number of likes they get on their that, more often than not, show only the best times in people's lives, because let's be honest, no one wants to broadcast their lows. We're not considered cool unless the most popular people approve of our highlights.

Often times, Christians find themselves feeling like they're not measuring up because most of the time, cool is not associated with Christ. If you choose not to turn up every weekend, go to clubs, shake your butt in front of a camera, or use fake, wax-faced, flower crown Snapchat filters (Snapchat is SO overrated! Yeah, I said it!), if you don't look or act like everybody else, society labels you weird or lame. In a world that equates worth with likes, comments, and material things, it's easy to lose sight of our worth when we're looking at things through the wrong lensa worldly one, not a Godly one. 

I won't lie and say I don't care at all about what others think. Unfortunately, it's human nature for us to care what the world thinks. In elementary school I was bullied because I have a mild case of cerebral palsy which impedes my ability to run and climb. Kids teased me because I walk with a slight limp and I also have a visual impairment which causes my eye to wander. I used to let the things people said about me get under my skin until I realized two things: 1) I can't change the way God made me and 2) I only have to answer to what God calls me. Who cares what they say? Who are "they," anyway? I'm not gonna pretend like I don't have days where I feel less than. Of course I do. We all do. When I need a reminder of how much I mean to God, I play Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy's GRAMMY-nominated hit "Worth." (P.S. If you don't have Anthony's album Everyday Jesus, click here and get it NOW. It was so good, it won Anthony 10 Stellar awards in 2016it won in every category in which it was nominated!) but I digress. Anyway, "Worth" is a simple song with a really powerful message.

Anthony Brown Everyday Jesus Album cover / Twitter

You thought I was worth saving,

So You came and changed my life.

You thought I was worth keeping,

So You cleaned me up inside.

You thought I was to die for,

So You sacrificed Your life

So I could be free,

So I could be whole,

So I can tell everyone I know...

Yes, I am a Christian. No, you won't find me at the club poppin' bottles or at a kickback getting high, and no, I don't walk like everyone else...because I'm choosing to walk with God. I'm on a mission as a representative of Christ. The world might not think I'm "cool," but Jesus thinks I'm to die for. That alone is enough. I'm done comparing my behind-the-scenes stuff to everyone else's highlight reel. Comparison is the thief of joy. In Mark 8:34-36 (NIV), Jesus tells his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?" "Cool" isn't worth it if it costs you eternity. If it doesn't get me into heaven, I don't want it. Point blank, period. 

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I'll be standing by myself, and I'll have to answer for myself. He won't care if I was on trend, on Twitter or otherwise. He won't care what I looked like, how many people liked my selfie, or how many Facebook friends and Instagram followers I had. His only concern will be if I honored Him with my life. Will my gifts be used up when my time is through? Can my life be used as a template for other Christians to follow? I hope so. That's what matters. My worth does not lie in what others think of me. The only One I need to satisfy is God. That's easier said than done, of course, but there's so much more to life than being cool and flexin' on the 'gram with cars, money, clothes, accolades, and everything else society says we have to have in order to go viral or become a trending topic. We need to challenge ourselves to pray more than we post. Social media has made it scarily easy for us to become anti-social. Put your phone down and TALK to people face-to-face. Stop trying so hard to get them to follow you and encourage them to follow Jesus.

Oh, and by the way, serving God IS cool. The turn up is different, but it can be fun, especially if you surround yourself with like-minded people who also love God. In John 8:12 (NIV), Jesus says, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In other words, literally and figuratively, He's lit. Give Him a try.

Check out the official video for "Worth" below.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Goldsboro's Night of Inspiration: A Recap

Night of Inspiration flyer / Facebook

Last Saturday (January 28th) was incredible! National recording artist Tyrone "Tye" Tribbett came to Goldsboro, NC for Goldsboro's Night of Inspiration. Having seen Tye a few times before, I knew what to expect. A Tye Tribbett concert is a worship experience like none other. Tye's worship is so authentic. It's uncut, undignified praise! The anointing bounces off of him and onto every person in the audience. It's a powerful, direct encounter with God.

Tye Tribbett / Twitter

I was excited for Tye, but I also enjoyed the MC and the opening acts. They really set the atmosphere for God to move. The MC for the evening was Tim Shropshire, a comedian from Fayetteville, NC. I've seen Shrop in action before too, but each time is like the first time because you never know what he's gonna say a good way. His comedy is family-friendly and Christ-centered. #iRockWithShrop

Comedian Tim Shropshire / Facebook

The opening acts were great! They were all local, from Goldsboro and surrounding areas, and they were all young people, presumably ranging in age from late teens to late 20s. It was refreshing to see so many young adults souled out for Jesus. First up was Sound of the City from City Church of Goldsboro, then Generation Joshua from World Overcomers Christian Church in Raleigh, NC, followed by DeMarcus Kelly and Friends from Goldsboro/Mt. Olive, NC. All the opening acts had a similar sound: energetic, fresh, fun, and of course, Holy Ghost-filled, the perfect appetizers to prepare for the main entrée, Tye Tribbett.

DeMarcus Kelly / Facebook
Generation Joshua / Facebook

If you've never been to a Tye Tribbett concert, what are you waiting for? As I said before, it's a worship experience like none other...but it's also a workout (lol). Recording Tye's set is nearly impossible for two reasons: 1) it's hard to keep up with him! He's all over the place, but the anointing flows in tune with his movements which leads to 2) you can't watch him without dancing along with him. Tye's ministry isn't a sit-there-and-look-cute type of party. It's a you-better-GET-UP-AND-GET-YO-BLESSIN' type of party! A He's-been-TOO-GOOD, turned-my-mourning-into-dancing, V-I-C-T-O-R-Y praise! There's "No Way" you'll leave without getting blessed. (If you're familiar with Tye's music, you'll get what I did there 😉)

Tye gave us what we came for and then some, with classics like "Most High God," and "Everything" and a few of my Greater Than favorites, including "The Worship Medley (There Is Nothing Like/Glory To God Forever)." After a mini sermon, he segued seamlessly into another Greater Than hit, the shout-inducing "He Turned It," followed by his new rap-infused single "Work It Out" from his forthcoming project, a live recording called Bloody Win. To close the show (or so we thought), he revisited GT one more time with the ever-popular "If He Did It Before/Same God." Just when we thought it was over, he gave us an "after party" song, his 2006 smash hit, "Victory!" Goldsboro's Night of Inspiration left me inspired, encouraged, and wanting to hear more. I did my best to record, but I had to take a pause during "He Turned It" for that praise break #TurnUpForJesus! Check out videos of Tye's performance here.

*Images without captions are my own.