My Top 15 Songs in Christ-Centered Hip-Hop This Year

The title says it all. Why explain?

15. “The Saints” | Andy Mineo featuring KB & Trip Lee | Heroes for Sale

14. “Bloodlines” | Alex Faith feat. J.R. | ATLast

13. “Organized Religion” | Beautiful Eulogy feat. Jackie Hill & Eshon Burgundy | Instruments of Mercy

12. “Hypocrite (Black Chapter)” | MC Jin | Hypocrite

11. “Misconception Pt. 2” | Lecrae feat. W.L.A.K. | Church Clothes 2

10. “Headphones” | Black Knight | The Young Future EP

9. “Vital Lens” | Beautiful Eulogy | Instruments of Mercy

8. “YHWH” | W.L.A.K. feat. Swoope & Dre Murray | W.L.A.K.

7. “Death Has Died” | Andy Mineo | Heroes for Sale

6. “Never Giving Up” | Alex Faith feat. Social Club | ATLast

5. “Exalted (Psalm 110)” | Shai Linne | Lyrical Theology, Pt. 1: Theology

4. “Shallow” | Andy Mineo feat. Swoope | Heroes for Sale

3. “Instruments of Mercy” | Beautiful Eulogy feat. Hello Abigail | Instruments of Mercy

2. “Letting Me Go” | Alex Faith | ATLast

And No. 1 is…

1. “Changed Hearts” | Braille | Glimpses of Grace

Top appearers: Alex Faith (Nos. 2, 6, 8, 11 and 14), Beautiful Eulogy’s Braille (Nos. 1, 3, 9 and 13), Andy Mineo (Nos. 4, 7 and 15) and Swoope (Nos. 4, 8 and 11).

Hope you enjoy! If you want to listen to these songs here, I embedded the Spotify playlist below. The No. 1 song is not on Spotify, but you can listen to it in the video above:

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Hope Fulfilled: The Meaning of Christmas

I remember the hope I felt each Christmas morning when I was younger. I would wake up and sit at the top of the stairs in my house, waiting for my parents to tell me and my siblings that we could come down and see what gifts they had gotten us. The anticipation killed me. Was it a hockey jersey? Was it a bike? Was it that video game I wanted? Even last year, my junior year of college, I was a little more excited than I perhaps should have been on Christmas morning.

The anticipation of receiving a gift brings about happiness, excitement and hope for great things to come. Christmas is one of the times that we experience that the greatest.

For the Christian, however, the anticipation and joy is in a gift far more expensive, yet far more available, than anything our parents can get us.

Christmas is hope fulfilled. Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites were waiting for the fulfillment of the old covenant and the institution of a new one. Jeremiah 31:31-34 fills us in (emphasis added):

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

The hope is sin forgiven, God known, adoption. Before Christ’s descent, there was no full forgiveness of sins, there was no truly knowing God. The only one who had any idea of “knowing God” was the high priest, who once a year went into the high places and made sacrifices before the presence of God.

Christ replaced that high priest and became a better one, as Hebrews 7:26-28 makes clear:

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

Because of this, we have a hope (that was once set up) FULFILLED. We no longer have to wait for salvation like we waited on Christmas morning for those gifts from our parents. It’s here for us. And Christ opened it up to not just the Jews, but also to the Gentiles, as Paul said the gospel is good news for both the Jew and the Greek. Hebrews 9:11-15 says (emphasis added again):

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.

This is the meaning of Christmas: Christ fulfilling the hope begun so long ago. This hope leads to so many things that would take days to write about, but most importantly, it leads to the hope of salvation, forgiveness of sins, absolution of guilt before God. That is the most important need of mankind, and Christ offers it freely. The payment was His death, but we get it for free, simply turning our lives to Him. No works, no magic words, no special circumstances. Just a heartfelt confession of our sin and our need of grace and Jesus, and a dependence on Him.

Christmas is so drenched in the gospel that we should not be able to contain how much we celebrate it.

When I Plant Myself Far from the Water

For the last couple months, I’ve had the first half of Proverbs 3:5 on sticky notes stuck to my bathroom mirror in my house at Elon – Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

It’s a refrain that’s been stuck in my head ever since I put it up, and at an apt time as well. As a senior in college, I’ve got a lot of decisions in my future – what I do with my life, where I live my life, who I marry (if God would have me marry), how many kids I have, what church I attend, etc. So many decisions. Often in those situations, I get super overwhelmed about what all I am about to face, what all I am about to decide on.

This morning I turned in my Bible in Jeremiah 17 rather unintentionally. I looked around and came across a few verses that rocked me. First, verses 5-6:

Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness.

How often do I turn away from my God and turn away from His purposes! How often I think my way is better! And when that happens, I see the results the Lord promises there in the second half of the verse. I feel like a shrub in the desert, like there is no growth, no fruit, no good coming from what I’m doing.

It’s because I’m trusting in the wrong person. I am wicked and evil and unintelligent when it comes to the things of God. A lot of times I think I can do all things through me who strengthens me.

But how feeble that argument looks when I approach my sin, my future, my past, my relationships, my schoolwork, anything.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 provides me a new hope:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This is what trust in the Lord means for me.

I’m planted by water and send my roots to the stream. When I plant myself and my future in the hands of the living God, I am fed and I am kept alive. But I have to actively do that. When I plant myself far from the living water that is Christ (John 7:37), I am not fed and I am not kept alive. When we don’t place our trust in Christ, we grow weary and feeble, like a plant who is not fed consistently by water. We must set our hearts on God’s plan as for our good (Romans 8:28) and His path as our joy (Psalm 16:11).

I do not fear when the heat comes and am not anxious in the year of drought. It’s so easy to fear in hard times. It’s so easy to be anxious when nothing seems to be going right. If I must be honest, I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch spiritually recently. There’s been some heat and some drought, little rain. There’s been fear and anxiety because I’m not trusting in the Lord. I get reminded of these words from Philippians 4:4-7:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The key to trusting God is giving all things up to Him and rejoicing in the heat and the drought, planting ourselves by His side. With all of my heart, all of me. In everything. Not just bits and pieces, sometimes. It doesn’t work that way.

This is much easier said than done. Beg God to give you the strength to trust, then keep walking the Christian life, obedient and faithful to the One who is faithful to you when you don’t deserve it. That’s trust. And it only comes from the Creator.