Volume 1 Issue 4
Caribbean Salt: Adaeze and A Few Good Men IDENTITY :: IN CRISIS OR IN CHRIST? Saltymagazine.com
Volume 1 Issue 4
CONTENTS SEASONED COLUMNS 10 Truth by Stephen Rosenberger 11 Guest by Yodit Kifle 12 Purity by Tandeace Hairston 13
Beauty by Gabrielle Williams
Justice by Sereen Guialteri
Taste IN EACH ISSUE
Inside Cover Newness of Life by Inspiks.com
In Living Color Testimony by Carlie Harford
SALTY Nugget Christianity Is A Charge by Robyn-Ann Lawson
SALTY Internet Finds Adaeze: Rapid Eye Movement Review by Tanya “Ziggy” Wedderburn
Interview Highlight A Few Good Men by Camille “Adaeze” Evelyn
Power Struggle by LeCresha Durham
When Trying Harder Fails by John Jr Onyema
I Identify With vs I AM by Suzanne Delica
Born Identity by Joseph Magallanes
Identity Theft by Vonecia Carswell
Power Struggle by LeCresha Durham
MINISTERS CHOICE AWARD
PLATINUM BEST OF SHOW AWARD FOR A DOCUMENTARY ISSUE
NEW MEDIA FILM FESTIVAL
AURORA FILM AWARDS
GRAND PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST-TIME DOCUMENTARY CALIFORNIA FILM AWARDS 2011
TRANSFORMING STORIES INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
33RD ANNUAL TELLY AWARDS
NON-BROADCAST PRODUCTIONS FOR SOCIAL ISSUES
AWARD OF EXCELLENCE CANADA FILM FESTIVAL 2012
AWARD OF MERIT
FOR A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
ACCOLADE COMPETITION 2011
"One of the most compelling documentaries ever made" -Movie Guide
Go behind the veil of the sex industry. ON DVD AND BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVELY AT N E F A R I O U S D O C U M E N T A R Y . C O M 100% of ALL proceeds will go to COMBAT the global crisis of sex slavery. WATCH THE TRAILER
Volume 1 Issue 4
WHY identity? Because the world called, and wants to know whose side are you really on. Because Christians are quicker to defend their sin than to defend their God. Because sometimes we need to be reminded that we are not home yet. “Because you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. “ Colossians 3:3
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You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavor... it is no longer good for anything. - Matt 5:13
Writers: Suzanne Delica, Camille Adaeze, Vonecia Carswell, Tanya Wedderburn, Joseph Magllanes, John Jr. Onyema, LeCresha Durham, Carlie Hartford Editors: Robyn-Ann Lawson, Sabrina Singleton Columns: Tandeace Hairston Yodit Kifle, Stephen Rosenberger, Sereen Guialteri, Gabrielle Williams Photographers: Javier Edwards (cover), Larry Rosalez Role Models: Bryce Evans (cover), Sheina Mompremier Design: Chris Taylor (cover) Karthik R. (layout), Holly Hawkins, David Choate
This is a street artist’s authentic-stencil-design interpretation of “The Good Life”. The character represents people being sheep and feeding on the spin from the majority cultures like NY and other places. The grass in the mouth represents the character being fed and satisfied and the chain around the neck represents prosperity. You will notice the straight jacket which represents slavery to the American Dream and the x’s over the eyes stands for ignoring blatant epidemics that we have the money, power, voice and resources to change since our lives are “Good”. Last the “Mona Lisa” like smile represents how a life of self really leads to an unfulfilled joy. In light of this design, the horrors of sex trafficking and the vision of our company, we will give a percentage of each sale to non profits who are fighting the sex trade (IJM, DNA FOUNDATION, POLARIS PROJECT). Note this shirt is a limited Edition print and the first design of a series of “The Good Life” t-shirts.
Volume 1 Issue 4
Editor’s Journal Heavenly Citizens, In Earthly Flesh
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” (Hebrews 5:7) “In the days of his flesh,”… the flesh can be such a raw degrading reality that I often forget (or doubt) that Jesus can truly relate to its demands and limitations. How can the son of God know and understand the fragility and futility of being a human, and even worse, how am I as a human supposed to wear the holiness bestowed on a child of God. Like Mali Music sings, “Is this how it’s supposed to be? My makeup and nature automatically separates You from me.” And then I stumble across this verse, encountering it as if Hebrews 5:7 got added to the Bible today, just so I could read it in this moment of weakness – destroying all my excuses to stop praying because “God, you just don’t understand.” And there are more than a few disciples who find themselves wrestling with this identity crisis of being a heavenly citizen wrapped in earthly flesh. For many, it’s not heaven or hell that we struggle with, nor salvation, nor giving our lives wholly to God, but living in a body that seems to suffocate the very armor of God that we fight to put on daily. And like myself today, this is one of the spiritual questions confounding some: what to do about this flesh until heaven comes? So I want to encourage us, in the days of our flesh… in the days of laziness, lying, lust, and homosexual thoughts, in the days of greed, loneliness and overpowering addiction, in the days of hurt, anger, rejection and even death – to look to our Messiah’s own struggle AND response. I pray we would reject the lie that our Savior does not see or understand and that we will be encouraged by Hebrews 2:18 and regain confidence in our Redeemer: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” I also pray this would be our attitude, knowing that we are now hidden in Christ (both His struggles and His victories): “In the days of my flesh, I will offer up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who is able to save me from death… and I will be heard, because of my reverence.” So I will pray in the Spirit and I will abide in the Word, I will fast and I will confess my sin to the brethren. I will acknowledge that I am a child of the Most High, and a holy friend of God. But when I am low or tempted I will not be defined or condemned by those moments, but I will remember where my help comes from and accept that I am not strong enough to just “get my act together” without His amazing grace. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Amen.
Robyn-Ann Lawson 8
And you, O desolate one, what do you mean that you dress in scarlet, that you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, that you enlarge your eyes with paint? In vain you beautify yourself. Your lovers despise you; they seek your life.
Photo by Larry Rosalez
~ Jeremiah 4:30
Trusting the Master
When I think of risky propositions, I’m typically drawn to the parable of the talents spoken of in Matthew 25. It’s a familiar story involving three servants, each given a different sum of money by their master. As the story goes, the two servants with the greatest trusts invest well, double their initial investments and greatly please their master. The third servant, however, chose not to invest his master’s resources, but safeguard them until his safe return. Now you don’t have to be a modern-day wealth banker to know that burying your money in the sand will have a poor return-on-investment. Needless to say, the third servant gained nothing and disappointed his master. So does this story have application to our lives? We’re getting there…
involves risk when viewed rationally, but without at least some element
Today, many of us are facing some major decision points. We must choose to either continue practicing the behaviors that we’ve established as safe, or embrace a courageous faith that throws utter caution to the wind. Trusting the Master involves risk when viewed rationally, but without at least some element of risk there is absolutely no hope of reward: and without a hope of reward, we miss the purpose of life completely.
of risk there is
After further considering the kind of courage that’s driven by hope and inspires to action, I’m reminded of the movie “The Truman Show” which as you may recall follows the life of Truman Burbank: a happy-go-lucky bloke played by comedian Jim Carrey. I know this is a strange parallel, but stay with me on this one. Truman’s story is one of courage, hope and opportunity for action. Growing up in Seahaven, Truman lived on a set built under a giant dome, populated by the show’s actors and crew. The producer had the ability to control every aspect of Truman’s life, even the weather. To prevent Truman from discovering this false reality, he invented ways of discouraging Truman’s sense of exploration, including “killing” his father in a storm while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water, making many news reports and ‘adverts’ about the dangers of travelling, and featuring television shows about how good it is to stay at home.
no hope of reward: By Stephen Rosenberger
However, despite the producer’s control, Truman discovers many facts that seem out of place: he even managed to overcome his fear of the water and sailed away from Seahaven in a small boat. Upon Truman’s departure, the producer orders the crew to create a large storm in an effort to capsize the boat. Eventually, Truman recovers from the storm and leaves the studio in a much more climactic way than described here: you should rent the movie for the rest of the story. The point is that we don’t serve the entertainment whims of a sadistic producer; quite the contrary in fact. The theatrical stage of our life freely permits us to consciously serve a God who intends that we access the work of creation prepared for us outside the studio walls. But much like our friend Burbank Truman, unless we’re willing to leave the comforts of home and set sail into the realm of the unknown, we’ll never realize what lies beyond our own studio walls. Yes, the outside is dangerous. Truman was safe and cared for in his enclosed studio and could have spent his remaining days sheltered in that artificial life. But what kind of a life would that have truly been? The question today is: are you willing to risk everything for the hope of something greater? The master was disappointed with the third servant because he lacked the faith to pursue what was intended for him. Burbank Truman risked it all for the hope of finding something greater. How about you?
Prepared Purpose For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10).
We were skillfully and intimately “created in Christ to do good works which God has prepared for us beforehand so we can walk in them.”
My Pastor often says, “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.” Knowing and understanding purpose seems to always be the plight of one’s life. There are many people walking around on this earth without a true sense of their purpose, causing them to dabble in destruction or waste time in idleness.
How awesome is it that we have been on God’s heart not just when we came on this earth, but He’s known and prepared for us while we were yet in our mother’s womb? He took the time to intentionally prepare our path so that we can walk in them. Psalms 139 says to us that God knows the days of our lives before one even came to be. You are not an afterthought---but an intentional response to God’s love for you to do good because you were given as a good gift from a GOOD God!
There seems to be a perception that purpose is what I am supposed to do with my life. But as I meditated on Ephesians 2:10, I began to see that purpose was more than what I had confined it to be. This verse starts off by declaring to us that each of us is God’s workmanship— that means we are the product of His skill and craft. Purpose is powerful not only because it knows what to do. That is just half of it. Purpose is powerful because it first recognizes what it is, in order to do what it does. Our purpose in this life is more effective because we know that what we are called to do is imbedded and reflected in who we are created to be—a child of God-His workmanship! Fearfully and wonderfully crafted! Our purpose is anchored in identity—not works. That needs to be our foundation. Those who seek to find their purpose in only what they do will never be satisfied because doing always runs out-Doing will somewhere along the way stop. But BEING can’t stop being—it will always be anchored and secure.
Nonetheless, if we are not careful to withstand the doubts and attacks that cause us to waver in that knowledge and foundation, there will sadly be many untrodden paths of destiny. I want to encourage you that as God’s beautiful workmanship, a path has been prepared for you. You have been thought of and planned for (such a beautiful feeling). Don’t give up seeking to know Christ so that you can be confident and strengthened by your identity in Him to do the good works He’s called you to do. Don’t leave your path untracked. Good works await you to do, but more importantly a Good God waits for you to come closer and be with Him. Peace, love, and blessings,
ating Dilemmas: Where You Don’t Want To Go
Figuring a person out requires your full attention. Whenever someone becomes dateable in your life, it’s time to pay even more attention to certain clues (like actions, behaviors and beliefs) that help you determine whether they’ll compliment your future. You miss important signs when you date in places that cloud your judgment. If you’re serious about finding (or being found by) the right fit for your future, one of the most important things to be mindful of is where you go on dates.
Come On Over
Temptation turns physical the more you expose yourself to it. So, no matter how much you convince yourself you won’t have sex with dates who come over, eventually you will (Matthew 26:41). It’s also unsafe to have at-home dates because you’re alone with a stranger who hasn’t proved their trustworthiness; and the invitation can be easily misinterpreted (as an invitation for sex). These distractions make it hard to focus on dating. Avoid them by going on group dates with mutual friends or to places that offer group lessons (like a cooking or art class) where you can discover each other in an unordinary but effective way.
Meeting Too Soon
part before bringing dates around your family or children (Ecclesiastes 3:1). When you introduce people to relatives out of or ahead of time, it makes it hard for them to take your date (and sometimes you) seriously. Children are especially affected because they learn how to date by watching you; if you choose carelessly they’ll choose the same way. Introduce your dates to a close friend instead. That way you can get an outside opinion, and you avoid needless questions and confusion if it doesn’t work out.
What Was That? Getting to know someone requires a lot of conversation (Luke 6:45). Loud music and provoking entertainment makes it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to have one. Choose places quiet and calm enough to hear and pay attention to each other. Going on an art walk, to a festival or a barbeque, for example, is more appropriate than a firework show, meeting at a dance club or going to the movies (since there’s no talking during a movie, how can you have a discussion during one?).
University at Buffalo: Date & Acquaintance Rape Psych Central: Parental Influence Reduces Risky Behaviors
ConversationStarters.com: Interesting Conversation Topics
Allow time to play its
Though it feels like second
nature, constantly measuring
yourself up to others leaves you with little time toappreciate y o u r s e l f By Gabrielle Williams
Identity. It’s what we spend our whole lifetime searching for. It’s something that everyone prays to find, yet very few people can answer the question, who am I? A lot of times we think that our real identity is something that we’ll never know- a case left unsolved. In reality, it’s closer than what we think. Sometimes we are so caught up in comparing ourselves to others that we forget to see our own identity. Comparison is like the person you should’ve broken up with years ago. Though you feel insecure, lost, and belittled when you’re with them, you can’t let go. When you’ve absolutely had enough of this toxic relationship, you take a break. Yet, time after time you take them back. Why? Because it feels weird to live without it. How could you stop measuring yourself up to others when it’s something you’ve done your entire life? When your parents finally got you the new Nike’s you loved them... until your classmate walked in with the freshest Jordan’s. You thought you could sing like Adele… until you heard the other people in the choir. Though it feels like second nature, constantly measuring yourself up to others leaves you with little time to appreciate yourself. How can you love your own identity when you’re so lost in someone else’s?
The times in my life when I felt the most inadequate, was when I was comparing myself to others. My killer outfit wasn’t so killer when someone else was getting more compliments. My profile picture wasn’t cool enough because it didn’t get as many likes as my friends. I was offended if someone called me fierce and another girl pretty. Even with my relationship with God, I would measure it up to others. After hearing many swear off all secular music, I felt bad that I still listened to Maroon5 and Beyonce. My prayer life seemed menial when others talked about praying for hours on end. I felt like a straight up sinner because I watched more VH1 and MTV than The Bible Network. This caused my relationship with God to become more about routine than relationship. One day God had to tell me “I just need you to be ok with whom and whose you are.” We are always measuring ourselves up against others, yet God has already verified us with a label way stronger than Gucci. Your life is not the person you admire because what God has for you is for you. There’s nothing wrong with your identity. Once you spend more time focusing on your unique purpose, then you can see how special you really are. Your worth, your life, your swag, is incomparable.
Art by Sereen Guialteri 14
The paintings all symbolize an aspect of a victim’s journey in the healing process. The trees represent the cross on which Christ was crucified, that we might have life and life in abundance. The glowing element in some of the paintings represent eternity and our pursuit of it. The colors are an outward expression of what is happening within the girls’ spirit-mostly joy, elation, freedom, and celebration at what God has done for them. Even the ratio of girl to her environment represents God’s abundant grace and how it overwhelms us and is bigger than we can imagine-it is endless. I have also been part of building an installation that gives
When I first found out that children were being sold around the world as sex slaves, my knees buckled and my heart was arrested. The idea of it was so evil and the prevalence of the crime was so large that I just could not fathom it. For a long period of time, I stayed in a place of sadness and pity – not knowing what to do or how to react. But the Lord revealed that those feelings were leaving me immobile and if I wanted to do something about this injustice, it would have to come from a place of hope. So I started painting. I wanted to bring awareness to the injustice of child sex slavery, but I didn’t want that to be the end of my work. I wanted to show people that full restoration and redemption could be found in the miraculous healing of Jesus Christ. I painted images of girls playing with balloons, running in fields, walking through brightly colored pathways-all to express my dreams for their future. But these weren’t just my dreams, these are God’s plans and desires.
people the experience of being in a brothel where a child of about 5 years old is trafficked. My team and I have taken this installation and set it up in multiple secular venues as well as churches. We have used it as a platform to raise an outcry against this injustice, but then we introduce the paintings as a response to the darkness that people are seeing. Our mission has always been to make it clear that the Gospel is the solution to any injustice and to challenge the Church to step out in faith and be a part of God’s redeeming work. MY passion is to see God’s people taking over the work of fighting injustice in the world by praying, using their gifts and talents, & working within the church to create solutions.
Fails By John Jr. Onyema
1 Corinthians 12:10 10 ”For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. I’ve been attending church and calling myself a Christian for as long as I can remember. I’ve probably heard a sermon or read a devotional that used 1 Cor 12:10 or the passage that it comes from at least once a year for just as long. These sermons and studies always drew my attention to the external issues, the “insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.” It’s only recently that the word “weaknesses” stood out to me.
I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy for as long as I’ve called myself a Christian. I believed that I had those feelings for good reasons. “Girls don’t like me.” “I’m not strong enough in my faith.” “My hard work isn’t paying off like I imagined it would.” “Why am I not as joyful as him or her?” “I can’t seem to beat lust.” Hearing sermons, reading my Bible, and observing others seemed to back up my belief that I was doing it wrong. They all seemed to tell me that the Christian life was about victory and triumph, and if I couldn’t cast off my anxiety and doubt or beat my sin completely then the flaw was in my approach, effort, or commitment. A life as a Christian was the only one that I’d known, and I found myself in a place where, as much as I wanted to be fruitful, I did not believe that I’d ever be able to joyfully live as one. Some of you might be picking up on some of the mistakes I was making. You can see it in how many times I’ve used the words “I” and “my”. You can see it in how I compared myself to others. It took a lot of time and a lot of different voices coming from a lot of random sources to help change the way I viewed myself and 1 Corinthians 12:1-10 was one of those sources. Paul, the apostle, the writer of multiple letters, a hero of the faith, relates to his fellow believers that he had a thorn in his flesh that he did not have the power to remove on his own. It should be a surprise in and of itself that this man of great faith could not overcome this. However it gets more surprising because Paul then asks God to remove it, and God says in not so many words, “No, I won’t take it away, but I got you covered, Paul. That thorn isn’t going anywhere yet, but neither is my grace. That weaknesses is opportunity for me to show up more.” “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” One of my biggest hurdles is frustration with myself, but Paul, the apostle Paul, writes, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses.” One of my favorite things to say lately is, “It’s not about me.” Paul doesn’t say “in order to protect my ego” or “so I can achieve greater success” or “so I have an excuse for my behavior”. He says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses” and the things that make my weaknesses more apparent, “insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.” Instead of fixating on his issues, he fixes his eyes on Christ so that Christ can use his weaknesses as opportunities. Paul doesn’t allow himself to be defined by his weaknesses either or use his contentment with all the good stuff in his life to battle his frustration with them. Instead he acknowledges them, is content with them, and puts his faith in the idea that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Paul’s testimony has allowed me to more fully understand that because of Christ I am fit for a relationship with God and has driven me to seek out the good works that [God] has prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). Recalling Paul’s Testimony helps me to be more patient with my growth, embrace the grace and forgiveness that God offers, and compare myself to others less. It took me a long time to appreciate this passage, and I hope that others can learn this lesson more quickly than I did because of the fruit that can come from it.
TESTIMONY By Carlie Harford
Since I could remember, I have struggled with sexual sin. At an early age, my father and many other men had sexually abused me. Later on, I carried some of the emotional issues and thought that if I gave men my body, then I would have their love. But after many heartbreaks and being cheated on, I decided to go a different path. For me, that was surrendering my messed up life to Christ. My image of my self-worth was pretty low by the time I came to Christ; I thought I was unlovable and would never find a committed future husband. These insecurities were completely turned around, when I found my security in Christ. There is nothing more uplifting to your self-esteem than to know that you’re a child of God. For me, I struggled with this concept even after I was saved. I still fell into sexual sin, and I felt like I could never overcome the sexual urges, that I had acted on in my previous years. So I called on God to show me what I needed to do, in order to be free from that sin. That’s when He pointed me to Romans 12: 1-2, “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask? Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.” This was the only passage I needed to see, in order for me to change my ways. I needed to let God transform me, and to give myself to Him. And this is exactly what I have been doing. Every morning I ask for God’s strength to overcome temptation and to be changed by Him, and everyday He has been faithful. I no longer feel the need to rely on a man’s love; I have God’s love. I no longer think of my body as an object for others; it is a temple of His Spirit. Being single, I have been able to focus more on my relationship with God and in turn have been becoming more of the woman He created me to be. When Jesus is the center of your life, when He is your focus, everything around you becomes even more beautiful and so do you. As you seek to become more like the Father, you shine your Light, your beauty, everywhere you go and people see a difference in the way you carry yourself and handle certain situations. When people see what you have, they’ll start asking you why or how you’ve changed, and who knows, that may be a perfect opportunity to share Christ’s power and love with others. The most important part of my journey with Christ has been the understanding that I am not my body, everything is for Him, and if I cannot glorify Christ in what I am doing, then I probably shouldn’t be doing it. God loves you so much and once you realize your worth in Christ, you set your standards pretty high and it will be worth the wait when you eventually do find your future spouse. Though I have not found mine yet I trust in God now, rather than my own mind for my future in anything. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
Is A Charge, Not A Badge By Robyn-Ann Lawson
And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. –Acts 11:26
Another saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” –Matthew 26:72
Beloved, Christianity should be a charge put on us by others, not a badge we tag on ourselves. Calling yourself a Christian is not what leads people to identify you as a follower of Christ. Actually following Christ is what should lead people to call you a Christian. There is an important difference. If we have to be the first to specify ourselves as a Christian, then we may not be “living a life worthy” of the name.
Christianity is not just a label that you self-proclaim, but an indictment of society as evidenced by one’s radical love and obedience to Christ. Those on the witness stand of your life should be convincing the jury of your unquestionable association and resemblance to the son of God. Our belief in Jesus should not only be our defense, but our prosecution! Their testimony (not just ours) should be a convincing case of our kinship to Christ, beyond all reasonable doubt. If many of us were taken to court for wearing our Christian badges, the charges would be dropped, because no witness would be found in heaven, earth, or even hell to convict us.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. –Gal 3:27 Not everyone that decides to put on the name of Christ has actually put on Christ, and been baptized into His death and resurrection. Many still flaunt and feed their growing ‘pet’ flesh, but just wear the Christian sweater over it. But any associate of Christ should be found dead in the flesh, and only alive in “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” of Jesus.
But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” –Acts 19:15 This is a challenge to myself, as well as all disciples. In our hearts AND in the streets, let’s be the generation “called by His name”!
Adaeze is an eclectic artist originally from Bridgetown, Barbados but currently residing in Gainesville, Florida; and her 2012 released EP entitled “Rapid Eye Movement”is an example of the magic that happens when one celebrates their uniqueness, and how God can use our personalities to relay His message. Adaeze’s EP reflected this philosophy through the tones of positivity, and the call-to-action to live our lives walking in our dreams but above that, to genuinely love one another, which is one of Christ’s greatest commands. From the beginning of the album, the audience journeys through a message of walking in one’s calling, to a celebration of uniqueness. In a line from the song “Pass Me Over”, she cleverly declares that she chooses to “…conform to unconformity.” Adaeze continues to inspire in the lines of “FYI” where she tackles one of the most relatable emotions affiliated with identity, doubt. She poetically and candidly speaks on the feelings of inferiority and insecurities, and as powerful as the relatability of those feelings are, the message of fulfilling God’s purpose above one’s self is what makes it monumental.
Rapid Eye Movement by Tanya ‘Ziggy’ Wedderburn
For some reason, one of the most universal struggles we face as humans lies within learning our identities. We often devote countless nights and a ridiculous amount of journal entries to “soul-searching” in an attempt to understand who we are, and ultimately what our purposes are. The irony is that we often search for individuality, but conform in order to fit in. So what happens when someone chooses to walk in their calling? What happens when someone elects to celebrate their personality? Well, freedom to create and to express a message happens.
This is the understanding that makes the difference; this is the understanding that clarifies the misconceptions surrounding “self-awareness.” Our identities are children of the Most High, our purpose is to worship Him and our commands are to love one another. In the song “FYI” Adaeze says, “…I want to be the version of myself that He [God] sketched in the blueprint…” It’s a declaration and a prayer to find herself always in the path God constructed. I believe that without even knowing it, Adaeze created a work that embodied a lot of what the Father asks of us; to be humble, to be honest, and to find our purpose in Him. I also believe that this message is a testament to the fact that we lose ourselves to find it in Him, and God in his awesomeness uses our personalities, desires and gifts to fulfill our purpose, so that we can still remain individuals. “Rapid Eye Movement,” is a creative, powerful, relatable and just overall “feel-good” album that celebrates uniqueness through Adaeze’s wordplay and musical instrumentation. The EP also serves as proof that you can be Christian and still be “you” in all your coolness. True identity is exposed when we learn whose we are, and then we’re free to celebrate our individuality. Adaeze inspires listeners to serve God and BE WHO YOU ARE. There is only ONE YOU and that’s for a reason, so live freely and boldly in THAT identity!
Few Good Men
Weeks ago I interviewed a few good guys from a small island in the Caribbean. Even with my own swamped schedule in between then and now, I hardly feel the need to refer to my notes. These guys are that memorable! It was a pleasure to chop it up with A Few Good Men, a one-year-old band consisting of charismatic brothers Reeco and Reemon and brother in Christ, Kyle. As an artist myself, and coming from the same island, I sensed we would have a lot of common ground. There was a lot to talk about! (Including whose high school was the best). After we settled on my alma mater as superior, the interview continued. Reeco, the 22yr old vocalist, led the conversation. “How did you get started?” I asked. (These are the types of questions you’re supposed to ask, after all). What do you think he said? Something in the reader must hope for an answer that’s fairy-tale-like-ish. Something like “We all learned music together from the time we were 6 months old, and we’ve been inseparable since”. The answer was more along the lines of “My solo career wasn’t working out as well as we thought it would have, and so we roped in my little brother and guys from the church band.” Sooo not fairy-tale-like-ish (But God creates miracles, not magic!). In fact, it would all prove to be a lot of work; balancing school, practice, gym (they work out a lot), and writing and studio sessions. All this on top of learning how to blend all the different personalities together is no walk in the park. I mean, have you ever tried working with your brother/
large leaps in his faith and development, as both an artist and a man. All this and his colorful shorts in mind, you’d agree that he’s quite the pioneer! The drummer, Kyle, stayed quiet for most of the interview, but when he talked, everyone laughed! I could dig it! I’m sure there’s a lot you want to know about this guy, but trust me, all you really do need to know is that he enjoys ranch dressing on everything! (Seriously) Kyle, even though not biologically related to Reeco and Reemon, grew up in the same neighborhood and played in the church band with Reeco. He’s as close to a brother as a non-brother can get. Like the others, he enjoys the way God has used the band to reach the youth of Barbados. He gave me a message to pass on to you. Ready? “AFGM is coming to the world!”
sister? I love my siblings but seeing them all day, every day…that’s a lot going on! Despite the challenges that accompany being a student and an artist, Reemon, the stylist for the group (you really have to dig this dude’s style), stepped up to the plate as an Emcee. Unlike his older brother, Reemon had never really envisioned music as taking such a big role in his life. Now, “it’s second nature”. What’s not “second nature”, is a Christian hip hop culture in Barbados. Therefore, despite being the youngest in the group, he stands out as taking
And in my opinion, they’re ready to take it by storm! With a sound much like Kirk Franklin, John Legend, and Mali Music all combined (Awesome, I know!), I’m confident the youth of the world will appreciate their energy and message; Christian or not. These guys really do strike me as a few good dudes. With all the negative stereotypes surrounding males, it’s refreshing to see God use three very young guys, to tear those stereotypes apart. Now that’s some Caribbean Sea Salt for you! You may want to check out their two singles “Like You” and “Stay Away”, and get yourself pumped for their debut EP “#LifeTrends” coming in May. The single for that project, “Stronger Than I Ever Was”, can be streamed and downloaded, for the freezy, on the group’s bandpage (I bet you’re FB stalking them already!)
- Camille “Adaeze” Evelyn
Identify With vs I Am By Suzanne Delica
The day is coming to an end: I am alone in my room | My wife and kids are asleep | I am single and living on my own | My friends are in different places (physically and mentally) | I have a degree worth $53,000 and no job | My children are all grown up and I have an empty nest | I have everything I want | I drive fancy cars | I am the CEO of a Fortune 500 | My husband is my life and I love him dearly | I am an asset to this company | I am a friend to many (4983 Facebook friends and counting) | Everybody loves me | I have $24,000 in savings | I am what I live for. But who are you when everything is taken away? Who are you when the dress rehearsal, the show-n-tell, the make-up, the made-up, the façade, the glory and the praise, the titles, the labels, the associations, the lies, the truth, the hustle, the people, the stuff, the dreams, the things, the very clothes on your back are taken away? Who are you when no one is looking? What do you belong to when there is no one or anything to claim? What is left to represent when you are stripped of everything and everyone around you?
The answer… You are not what you identify with. You are an I AM created in the image of the I AM (Exodus 3:6, 14 // Genesis 1:27)… a being, not a doing. You are a masterpiece (Exodus 2:10), created by God as a stand-alone—no accessories needed—real-life version of David by Michelangelo. But I didn’t have to tell you this because you already knew it especially since the Word says so. The problem is you choose not to believe entirely. You’ve adopted the philosophy that the more labels and things you have the better off you are. We’ve become a people defined by how many titles we hold (i.e., girlfriend, brother, mom, sister, pastor, PhD candidate, etc.) causing us to have split personalities in the natural and a deficit in the spiritual as if we’re walking around collecting “Hello, my name is” stickers for a living. We’ve strayed away from our identity as children of God and live as if we are sons and daughters in crisis rather than in Christ. The number of people in depression and who have committed or consider committing suicide is at an all time high, and unfortunately Christians are amongst those cases. As a result, people question “where is God in all the chaos”; however, the ultimate question should be directed towards us. God has made it clear who He is by proving it over and over again through His Word and in our lives, daily. So, when will we finally decide to believe in who He is and who we are in Him? Beyond the things that we presume make us who we are and deeper into the identity we were born with before all the added fluff and fillers. That identity should be the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow, no matter who is in the room with us or how much we’ve accumulated in this life—we are conquerors, made victorious as He is made strong in our weakness. We are warriors dressed in valor and might and girded with truth and prosperity. You are an I AM just as He is the I AM. Not defined by special powers, a cape, or a special color, let alone the amount of money in your bank account or debt you are in. My challenge to you… It’s spring and a good time for housekeeping. What are you clinging on to? What labels and such do you need to let go of or at least stop prioritizing before God? Isolate yourself from all the things and people in your life and do an introspective analysis of who you think you are. If it doesn’t align with God’s Word, it is time to purge (person and/or thing).
My words of wisdom to you… People and things come and go…thus if you keep looking to them for validation, you honestly wouldn’t know yourself if you were coming or going. But God is CONSTANT, ALPHA and OMEGA, always the same. Lean on Him for your identity. With that stamp of approval, you can rest assured that you’ll never be confused when the wind changes because you know God is your compass.
the world says about them, over what God’s word says about them. A right concept of man (yourself), is as important as having a right concept of who God is. To not believe something that his word says is true of you is blasphemy because to deny a truth that God says is to call him a liar.
Identity by Joseph Magallanes
From before our adolescence to even beyond adulthood we are in search for a place to belong. Each one of us has questions about who we are. Nothing is necessarily wrong with that. The problem comes when we stop short in finding the truth to those questions. The world is ready to shove us into categories and our culture especially makes sure that there are plenty of labels for us to identify with. The truth is that we do not need any of the world’s labels. Jesus is not a label or a lifestyle, He is a person and to identity with Him is the one thing that begins to reveal the truth about who we are. For example, Jesus never questioned who He was, He always knew. The Gospels show that it was everyone around Him who was questioning His identity and it is everyone today that continues to dispute the identity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The deepest reality is that, Jesus is our life in its full expression. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God has made us beautiful in his sight, each one of us being blessed with differences that make us unlike any other created thing. Only an infinite God can express himself an infinite number of ways in the individual. The sum of who we are, our personality, our gender, sexuality, the different ways our minds think and work, our dreams, desires, the things we love to do, all of these things and a purpose and a real meaning in the person of Jesus Christ. The World and our enemy, Satan, knows this very well and he continues to do everything in his panicked power to attack our identity. It is a shame to see so many young men and women believe in the lies of the world and value what
Using myself as just one story, my identity as a man was constantly being attacked. With the battle of trying to defend my masculinity and sexuality, I started to believe the lies the world had been telling me, that I liked boys and that I could be happier if I would only accept the fact that I was homosexual. What a false concept I began to have of myself. The truth is that I, like everyone else, experienced hurt and I felt rejected in many ways. The World provided a way for me to be accepted and a place for me to feel more normal, a place where I could be more myself, so I thought. What to do when you feel like no one knows you, understands you, believes in you, cares, loves you, accepts you? What you do here is the most important choice because it leads you to the place where you draw your identity - the view of yourself that is true to you but might not the be true according to God. God does not give us anything like the world gives us. The world may try and shape who we are, give us a name, interpret how we view ourselves. Ultimately we never know who we are until we know God. Only God can show us who we really are, give us our true name and in ourselves we see Him. In Him we become exactly who He had in mind when He created us. The World will present a wide variety of choices to assume an identity for ourselves. The created thing cannot say to itself, this is who I am, this is what is inside me, this is what I am useful for. We take the ideas of the world and use them to answer our questions of identity, purpose, and value. When Identity is assumed there is a lack of stability followed by a loss of purpose. True identity cannot be assumed, it must be found. To believe this statement means accepting what it takes to fullfil it. Identity is knowing who you are and knowing what it took to get there. Where do we begin? Jesus tells us if we lose our lives for his sake, we will and it. This takes believing God about who he says he is and who he says we are. Trusting that God will do what he says he will do and being dependent on him for our life. In no other way is identity found, except through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our lives are hidden in Christ and it is His job to reveal them to us. God is the only one who can know us so intimately, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed” (Psalm 139:15). The entire psalm is dedicated to revealing the ways in which God knows us individually. Know him now in spirit, reach out and worship Him and He will show you who you are. The most dangerous men and women are the ones who have discovered something true about themselves. Believe God and reject the Enemy and all his lies, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14).
Identity Th e f t by Vonecia Carswell
“Beware of hindering yourselves with any weight of earthly cares. Examine your hearts most closely, and purge out each besetting sin with a godly prayerful jealousy. Remember that blessed rule, “looking unto Jesus.” Peter did run well for a time, when he left the ship to walk upon the sea to Jesus—but when he saw the waves and the storm he was afraid and began to sink. Thus many a one sets out courageously—but after a while corruptions rise high within, corruptions are strong without, the eye is drawn off Jesus, the devil gets an advantage—and the soul begins to sink. Oh, keep your eye steadily fixed on Christ, and you shall go through fire and water and they shall not hurt you.”
~ J.C. Ryle Once our eyes stray off of Christ, even for a second, the enemy takes that chance to intercept us. This has happened to me. I fell into a jail of compromise, and my eyes were halfway on the prize. I was slowly whipped back into the batch of the world, tempted by the many flavors of my sin, and for a moment, I felt like I was winning… However, the only thing I was truly winning was man’s favor—I was under the guise that I was capable of pleasing man and God—but I was losing what was far more important than man’s approval: standing right with God. I was off the mission, but I tried to convince myself that it was natural. But truth is, my natural is what God calls sin. I was in denial though. I didn’t want to believe that I slipped up. I didn’t want to believe that I had perverted a part of what God had given me. I didn’t want to believe that a part of me was lost, and that pride only sunk me deeper into my sin. So, I continued to run to material things, people and even the church, to make me feel better about myself again. These were my new identity, which further complicated my relationship with God. Then the truth hit me:
My identity in Christ could only be restored through gazing on Christ alone. I was a victim of identity theft because my gaze was not on Christ, and therefore, I did not have on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13-17). Why do we leave the marvelous things that God has given us unguarded? Your social security number is temporary but your soul is eternal, guard it!
The Power Struggle
Abstinence. Celibacy. Virginity. Lately I have heard the application of those words associated with someone trying to exert power over a relationship and/or a situation. When did maintaining purity become the cause of a Power Struggle between men & women? Rather, it should be a common goal they share and work towards to display their submission to God.
I made the decision to be celibate almost 7 years ago because I was tired of taking my life into my own hands and neglecting God. I professed being a Christian, but my actions were not in sync with God’s will & way. Mistake after mistake, I started to become sensitive to my disobedience & my desire to want to please & honor God grew. His grace & mercy was ever present. Personally, it was never about using celibacy to attract men, manipulate a man’s commitment to me, or to demonstrate any power I have over a man. I am celibate in an attempt to release my so-called power to God. “Nevertheless Lord, not by my will but let Your will be done” Obeying God is not a “situational” action. It is something that we must strive to do daily, for every situation. Power struggles begin to surface when we try to find loop holes to obeying God. For instance, the “90-Day Rule” or the “5 Dates Rule”. This is when a woman elects to make a man wait “90 days” or “5 dates” to engage in sex. It is no longer what does God say about this situation, but how can I get this man, keep this man, please myself, please him and gain his respect at the same time; thus a woman exerting her power to control the situation. Partially obeying God is completely disobeying God. Ever wonder: if I have to do all of this to get and keep this man, is he truly the man God has for me? As a child of God, what do you truly deserve and how will you be able to maintain what He gives you? “Therefore whoever hears these saying of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on a rock” Matthew 7:24. Over the past years, the trust I had in myself (for selecting partners & maintaining relationships) has slowly vanished. I have realized I don’t know what is best for me; only God does. Taking these situations into my own hands could cause me to be yoked up with someone who could hinder my future, and even worse, I could hinder theirs. As I began to grow spiritually and sought intimacy with God, it changed from a Power Struggle between a “man & I”, to a Power Struggle between “God & I”, to me totally surrendering to God. It was a process, but the result is the presence of God’s peace & patience at work in my life. My interests & prospective changed. I started to view my potential mate as a counterpart to my God-ordained purpose, instead of just someone who would occupy my time, space, and energy and to provide temporary gratification.
In Ephesians 5, God gave women the commandment to submit to their husbands. This is a clear indication that we need to be mindful of whom we date, commit to, and eventually marry. The man is supposed to submit to God and be the head of his wife. Men should also be seeking women who are willing to submit because God instructed her to do so and not because she is forced to do so. Ephesians is clear of how the husband & wife are to behave. There should be no Power Struggle. If a man and woman are out of order during the dating phase, the disorder will trickle into their marriage, whether they are aware of it or not. This is why it is important NOW to stop playing games with each other & with God. If there is someone who views your commitment to remain pure until marriage as you being manipulative or controlling, pray for discernment & direction and do not forfeit your commitment with God to please him/her. Your actions speak louder than words and your obedience to God will help you overcome the attacks of satan. Do not allow your fear of being single or other emotions to take over, but feed your spirit by resting in God & reading the Word. Seek mentors who are successful in this area and maintain an active relationship with them. To help keep you focused and steadfast, be willing to put certain friends on hold if they do not respect your choice and improperly influences you. It is okay to say “no” to being around certain people if you are not yet grounded enough to flee from temptation & inappropriate behavior. It is okay to go for an extended period of time without someone giving you their attention. It is okay to be alone with God. Abstinence. Celibacy. Virginity. Neither should be a method for any person to exert control over another. It should be both, the man and the woman, exercising self control and honoring the purposes of sex as God intended. The world has made Abstinence & Celibacy appear as something to be done based on our timeline, but it should be based on God’s timeline. When does God know you are ready to unite with your mate and share His blessing of sex? When does God know that your mate is ready for you? What does God want you to do now, while you wait? God want us to have & enjoy His blessings, but not prematurely. Why are we rushing? Why do we not trust God? Why is there a Power Struggle? It is not your body, it is the Lord’s. “Do you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” I Corinthians 6:19 With Love ,
Identity in Crisis
or in Christ? By Carlie Harford
Lies spoken through society,
Become all about me?
Seep inside our cavities
Have we forgotten
Bringing out the ugly
Who we are in the King?
Of selves once in depravity.
Chosen, holy, made-clean.
Without guarded thoughts
To shine light
We walk like robots
Upon the darkened scene.
Acting, dressing, submitting
To proclaim wonders
Just to please.
Of his excellencies.
Misguided hearts bend knees
We live for Him
To a plethora of mistaken identities
And Him alone.
Based on insecurities,
No longer known
Renewing our minds
We’re able to see…
But when did the focus
He is our identity.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
o VERSE ETENE
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