More Humble Rappers Please

Humble Beast

As you would see through my blog, I like Music… however almost even more than that I like discovering music, new music music that’s often left undiscovered by the masses unless people who like to dig and discover new music dig them up from the underground/indie treasure chest that many labels have decided to use to pave their way.
Now one genre I like to soak in every now and then is hip-hop… But I have to be honest I haven’t listened to good hip-hop for a while… or at least not good NEW hip-hop. All the hip-hop that’s on the radio is just boring and predictable… all about bling and girls… or a guy in bling and surrounded by girls in bikinis saying how poor they are (forgetting the fact they have a major record label and are on tour with 4 other major hip-hop stars)… I just roll my eyes and think “Oh please”

Hip-hop used to be authentic
Hip-hop used to be clever
Hip-hop used to push boundaries
Hip-hop used to say something that people wanted to say but couldn’t in a 3 minute song

What happened???

I grew up with groups like De La Soul, Jurassic 5, A Tribe called Quest, The Beastie Boys, Bone Thugs & Harmony and Run DMC, all groups that paved the way for other genres and hip-hop groups… and while not all of them had something wonderful to say all the time… they at least were pushing the boundaries to places that other groups had never thought about… and when they weren’t they were helping young minds to think about where they are at and what they are about. You can recgonise the root of where the music came from in some music today and a lot of the above names are the genesis point.

They were groups at made a name for themselves in the mainstream but kept their feet firm in the underground… where the people live and breathe.

However now these groups have for a large part gone to ground who is taking up the mantle?
Who is filling the void?

That’s why when I discovered the guys at Humble Beast. I was like “thank goodness… some good quality hip-hop that actually says something… but not only that… groups that push boundaries”
The guys are so passionate about hip-hop and what they have to say that they are giving their albums away…
And it’s good stuff… I mean REALLY good stuff!

Artists like ‘Propaganda’ who’s style sits somewhere between roots and beat poetry… it’s clever and it makes you think about the world you live…
Artist like ‘Beautiful Eulogy’s who’s new album ‘Satellite Kite’ is hip-hop that is rooted in the past while the lyrics and style are pushing future boundaries, and they’re already featuring in Red bull skate and surfing. No one else seems to be pushing the organic sound in hip-hop like these guys… While everyone else is on the beeps and buzz sound pushed forward by the likes of Will.I.Am and his Black eyed Peas buddies it’s great to hear  new sounds again.

They say on their website:

“Humble Beast is a collective of artists, who make music & resources.  With each production, Humble Beast aims to be compelling & authentic for our culture.  We pour our lives into each of these resources & in turn we give them away 
for free”

It’s good stuff… and they certainly are living up to what they said above… you’re not getting any dregs here folks… this is the Cream you’re getting here!

For free downloads of ANY of the Humble Beast albums click HERE!

 

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Why my friends frustrate me, annoy me and get under my skin … (or …how I’m growing thanks to my friends)

Friends

Friends (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isn’t it funny how you make friends?
There seems to be no real rhyme or reason to it.
Some are like you… some are not…
Some are for a short time in your life… some are for life.

There is no real scientific equation that can be proven that if you followed it would guarantee that you will have a true friend for life… sure there are always words and phrases that people use when they talk about friends… Loyal… trusting… support you… are there for you… have got your back… Are always there for you… etc.
And when I look at my closest friends a lot of these phrases are true, but there is something that surprised me as I looked closer at my friends… it was the things that I admired about my friends… it was the things that frustrated me about my friends… and the things that made me stronger because of them.

If I was to describe myself I would use phrases like:

  • Big Picture
  • Impetuous
  • Breaks rules
  • Curious
  • Likes to play/have fun
  • Expresses
  • Emotional
  • Takes risks
  • Imaginative
  • Creative
  • Talks a lot
  • Feels
  • Vision focused

It starts to paint a picture of someone who is creative and always on the go…
My brain is usually pretty full of new an creative ways to do things for people, express myself and communicate.
However it also paints a picture of someone who maybe isn’t as grounded all the time as I maybe can be.

So I sat down and looked at my closest friends… and it was actually amazing to see how the people I valued the most were people who were almost the exact opposite to me.

My closest friends were:

  • Logical
  • Factual
  • Neat
  • Reliable
  • Planners
  • Grounded
  • Listener
  • Controlled
  • Reduces risks
  • Goals and objective focused
  • Efficient

And I wondered why I kept getting frustrated by them on one hand… and drawn closer to them with the other.
And when you look at the two lists it doesn’t take much to notice it’s because we go about the same tasks in a totally different way...
We look at things differently…
We fulfill different parts of the same vision or job.

Where I would be used to come up with an idea… I’m not the best person to follow through with the idea, that’s where people like my friends excel…
While I think about things in big picture form… my friends are all about the detail.
While I am being emotional about the people… my friends are looking at the facts

It’s frustrating sometimes because they will sometimes tell me something and I’ll be like “Darn they’re right… AGAIN”

But there is this real sense of Iron sharpening iron… my closest friends have free reign (within reason) to tell me the true as they see it… they can pull me up on things that they think I may be lacking or neglecting… they can be truthful even when they know it may be something I may not want to hear.

But here is the thing… I trust them so much that they have permission to talk into my life… and as a result I have learnt so much from the closest of my friends

I said to one friend not that long ago how much I admired them and the things that they have shown me… but I was surprised when they said to me how they had learnt from me the art of “looking to the left and the right when moving forward…” and it made me think… “Yes this is what about true friendship is about”

There is a verse in the Bible that is often used at weddings:

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New Living Translation)

You see it seems to me that we are to join with other to help minimise our weaknesses… and maximise our strengths.
If I was with someone who was to much the same as me… I wouldn’t grown anywhere near as much and I certainly wouldn’t have someone with me who helps me where I am weak.
Or to use the famous quote from Jerry Maguire “You complete me”

Because if you look at my two lists above… my closest friends literally complete me!

We’re two sides of the same coin.

 

 

Faith isn’t passive …

Now That's What I Call Faith

Now That’s What I Call Faith

It’s been starting to frustrate me how people talk about faith as something that ‘just happens’ but the more I read the Bible the more I discover that God often requires us to step out first… and at THAT point God comes and takes over.
Faith is a VERB… a DOING word.

I’ve heard it said “If God wants it to happen it will” and while that is true, it seems that we still have to do something to prepare.
It seems to me that God has placed dreams in our hearts for a reason… and it may be days, weeks, months, years before we see the fruit of that dream… but it must be in our heart for a reason.
Right?
So what are you doing to prepare?

I read through the Bible and I see miracle after miracle where the person had to ‘step out’ first before the miracle happen…
A few examples are:

  • The Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land and God commanded the priest to step into the river (Joshua 3:8) – it wasn’t until they had stepped into the river did the river part.
  • Jesus asked the staff to fill the jugs with water and take them to the head manager of the house before the water turned into wine… not only did the staff know they were taking water to the head of the house but they knew it was from the place where the people got water used to clean their feet.
  • Mark 16:20 says people went forth and preached everywhere… with signs following
  • God told Joshua that he had given the City of Jericho to Joshua… however they still had to walk around the walls 7 times in faith before they saw the miracle happen.

It seems that the Bible is FULL of stories where God asks us to step out in faith first, and then the miracles happen.

We shouldn’t just pray about our dreams… we should act on it.
Act as if God is going to deliver on his promise.

Now let me give FULL disclosure!

  • We don’t want to put God in a box and say “This is the only way that God works miracles” because our God is certainly bigger than anything we could ever believe or imagine.
  • This is NOT some “name it and claim it” scheme. You see it HAS to be in the will of God.
  • It’s not about getting God to give us what WE want.
  • It’s not about working hard to prove anything to God, in exchange for a miracle

So don’t just pray… because if our prayer isn’t accompanied by acting then there is a good chance we won’t go anywhere. It’s about putting feet to our faith or put another way:

“After kneeling down, we need to stand up and step out in faith” – Mark Batterson

I like that…
I once heard Pastor Francis Chan use the analogy of cleaning your room. He says:

“When  my daughter comes to me and I say to her “Go clean your room” she knows better than to come back and say
“Hey Dad I went away and memorized everything you said… you said to me ‘Go clean your room’ ” …
She’s also not going to come back and say “I remembered what you said and I can tell you now that I can say ‘Go clean your room… in GREEK’
Or “We’re going to get our friends together every week and we’re going to study what it might look like if I was to clean my room.”

It doesn’t work does it?We have to at some point we have to step out…
Do you believe that God has planted that dream in your heart… do you know in your knower, that this dream is from God?
Then after you pray… Stand up… and step out in faith.

 

Mums being Dads

English: Mother's Day card

English: Mother’s Day card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today we celebrate Mothers day.

Now it has to be said Mothers have one of the hardest jobs that you can have… not only do they have to carry the baby inside them for 9 month (while it takes first pick of all the nutrients etc…), they then have to give birth to him/her, and from that point on they are assigned to a full time job with no weekends EVER… In fact there is as saying that says

“Yay it’s Friday, the weekend is finally here… oh wait… that’s right I’m a MOTHER”

Isn’t that true… and lets be fair how many Mothers still had to make their own dinner and tidy their houses for their family today? (guys you really need to step up!)

As much as I think days like Valentines day have been “Hallmarked” to sell as many cards as possible… Mothers day is one I will happily buy into.

However there is a trend in our society that is getting darker and stronger… and I wonder how good it is for our society as a whole.
Women are now choosing to their job over their children… in other words they are choosing to let someone else raise their child.
Now I understand that in some cases a mum going back to work is a necessary thing… Mortgages,  rising bills costs etc… and then all of a sudden you get pregnant… It’s hard…I understand this.
What my issue is that women are so intent on being shoulder to shoulder with men in society that they are BECOMING like men, and that’s not a good thing.

It used to be that the Mother stayed home and raised the child… taught it the values that the family had and gave the children boundaries that they used as building blocks in life.
The Father went to work and brought home enough money to keep the family clothed and feed and pushed them to excel and stand up for themselves… however in today’s society there is such a sense of entitlement that all this has been left in the gutter.
Today parents want the new house, the new car, they want to use the degree that they spent time and money working on… but you see once you start to look at it like this you start to notice… it’s about ME.
I want a new car…
I want a new house…
I want a holiday…
(and sure you can come up with 50 reasons to justify your decision but the reality is still the same isn’t it???)

The role of a Mother is far to valuable to throw away as a part time job…
A Mother is the hub of a family group.

With the trend to work instead of home… what ends up happening is the Mother always loses.
She may work hard and get all the way to the top of her field… but when you talk to a lot of these people they will tell you about the sense of guilt they had letting someone else raise their kid…
Someone who doesn’t have the same values… someone who doesn’t have the same beliefs… and a lot of what they end up doing is buying things with the kids in mind, taking them places, buying them things, filling the weekend with the things they couldn’t do in the week to make up for the time they didn’t spend with their children…
When all the child wants… is time with their Mama!
You see they are cheating on their child… running away with work.
We’re all cheating time from someone… who are you stealing your time from?

And then on the other hand…

You have the Mother at home… working hard to raise their child, not having the same amount of money, meaning they have forfeited the new house, they have passed by the new car, they have to wait for that holiday. They are helping give their child the tools they need to live as a valuable member of society as a member of their family group.
However… they still feel like a loser, they’re guilty because they can’t support the family (especially if they’re living on a lower income), they are aware they’re letting their degrees and study go to waste as they spend time up to their waste in nappies and snacks and laundry.

Around this time of year I’m reminded of the famous story of a nun who worked in a men’s prison.
One day, she said, a prisoner asked her to buy him a Mother’s Day card for his mother. She did, and the word traveled like wildfire around the prison. Deluged with requests, she called Hallmark Cards, who obliged with huge boxes of Mother’s Day cards as a donation. The warden arranged for each inmate to draw a number, and they lined up through the cell blocks to get their cards.

 Weeks later, the nun was looking ahead on her calendar, and decided to call Hallmark again and ask for as many Father’s Day cards, in order to avoid another rush. As Father’s Day approached, the warden announced free cards were again available at the chapel. To the nun’s surprise, not a single prisoner ever asked her for a Father’s Day card.

Fathers who are not an active part of their families often leave a child wounded by absence–emotional as well as physical.
And it’s harder to recognize than others. However what often happens is it leaves women who may feel the need for physical intimacy that they have never felt from a guy before… women who have never known what a love from a guy should look like… If you have a look in society you will find that this is leading to so many unplanned pregnancy’s.

Or guys who have never been taught how to treat the opposite sex so a young boy thinks that being a man means the need for fast sex, to drink large amounts of alcohol, which then often leads to isolation and sometimes violence. No wonder our prisons are bulging.

Yet the scary thing is that even the average, law-abiding man today hasn’t had a father who said, “You’re my son and I love you,” or who helped him discover his unique talents and abilities. It would be too easy for a young boy to mis-focus his muscles, intelligence and energies destructively instead of creatively.

Yet this is often what Women are wanting for their children… wanting for themselves.
They are wanting to be more like men…
They want to run away and leave their families to be brought up by someone else…

But here’s the thing.

It’s the women who are actually holding our communities together…
It’s just that the society has chosen things like Money and Jobs and Degrees and success to be the measurements of what it means to be a good person… and ‘just being a mum’ falls way down the list and way of societies radar.

If you want to REALLY succeed in society being a great mum is the best thing you could do… both for your child… and your wider community

Mothers I tip my hat to you.

You have the hardest job in the world… it’s often the least rewarding… but I have a sense that if this was removed from our society (as we are already seeing) it all starts to fall apart.

Don’t give up on becoming a great mum …

Album Review: Malcolm Gordon ‘Into the Deep’

Malcolm Gordon 'Into the Deep'

Malcolm Gordon ‘Into the Deep’

It’s all about context.

There seems to be so many mega churches putting out albums full of generic worship songs that talk about Gods grace and goodness but miss the heart of it all… sometimes it just seems like they are just putting words to paper, and do ‘Worship by numbers’ – now please hear me I’m not saying that these songs aren’t authentic or can’t be used… I just sometimes think they lose their organic-ness due to deadlines etc.

And so it’s refreshing when you hear an album like Malcolm Gordon’s ‘Into the Deep’
You find yourself being drawn into the worship. It’s not about lights… it’s not about performance it’s about turning your eyes upwards… and it’s so natural.
Malcolm is a Presbyterian Minister, serving as the music director at St Peters in Tauranga in New Zealand… and the easy going nature that New Zealanders are renown for certainly shows in his music.

I love how Malcolm’s music is constantly routed not only in the Bible but also church tradition… a constant step forward while being rooted in the past. The Song Christ Before Me was inspired by ‘St Patrick’s Breastplate’ an old hymn that is thought to have been originally written in the 8th Century. Most of the songs have this foundation of scripture first which could seem quite heavy although Malcolm treats the scripture with respect and beauty and the result is a beautifully flowing album with real kiwi tinge and a large helping of Celt.

The album takes you on a journey as you start with ‘Waiting For the Dawn’ a real sense of expectations as you find yourself singing “Yes I am longing, For Jesus to come”… and then you are gently lead throughout the scriptures.
In fact being lead would be a really good way to describe how this album takes you to a place where you find yourself in worship, and it’s done so naturally you don’t have to think about it, the worship is something that just flows from where the music leads.

The real highlight of the album is when you hit the acapella  filled song ‘How Long Lord’ based on Psalm 13 sung as a Celtic tinged round… it’s melodic, it’s soothing and it’s the perfect time on the album to change the feel of the album.

Although this album is beautiful as a whole it’s each song that really feel like they have been individually hand crafted that really bring it together.
This is a beautiful inspired album.

Turn your smartphone on in Church (or #ChurchSocial)

facebook

facebook (Photo credit: sitmonkeysupreme)

The Social Media is becoming a very powerful and useful tool within our society.

There have been whole governments that have fallen because of this powerful medium. However it seems to me that the church is a bit behind the 8 ball when it comes to this tool.

We can scroll through our FaceBook pages, and our Twitter accounts and we can see pages of pictures of what our friends have had for dinner, lunch, and all the snacks in between.

We see pictures of their walks in the park, the scenery, and the blood red sky as the night approaches and the sun goes to rest… but when we start to look at our church life we find our feeds become strangely silent.

I have to ask the question… what makes your dinner (as wonderful and tasty as it looks) more important than the church or more importantly the message that you are hearing?

You see we post things that are important to us right?

So if that is the case shouldn’t we be broadcasting the fact that we go to a great Biblically focused Spirit filled church?
My church (Hope Presbyterian) is pretty good at keeping up with some aspects of Social Media so when you get to church you can actually ‘check in’ to Hope Presbyterian Church on Facebook… (or what ever church you go to!)

Why don’t we let people know that you’re a Christian for those who may not know already…  Start that conversation… say you went to church.

But why not take it further???

If there is a key Bible verse that you hear Tweet that sucker… let everyone know about it!

If there is a great quote send it our on the ethers…

If God talks to you… ponder that question on your news feeds on Facebook.

You see the social media has to be social right?

But why does it have to be shallow?

If we truly think this… then why are we holding back from the world the great stuff that God is talking to you about during church?

Now I’m not saying spend all your time on FaceBook instead of listening to a sermon… but lets be smarter about how God talks to us and the world… why wouldn’t we Tweet that?

Why aren’t we sharing that?

I recently went to the Movies with my brother Nathan and saw Iron Man 3, it was a great movie and I had seen about 6 other friends had checked in at other times to see this film… but when it came to church on Sunday… Silent.

Are we just using the Social Media as a way to show how cool and trendy we are… showing off our baking or our new clothes… but are silent about important ETERNAL issues?
Are we spending our time being so trendy that we are forgetting about adding God to our news feeds?

Shouldn’t our news feeds reflect our lives and the things that are important in our lives?
If so… where’s God and his message on our Social media?
Or are we just creating for ourselves our own online socialite personality???