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Journaling to hip-hop, a guest post by Christina Blackwell

This is part five in A Contemplative Approach To Christianity, a series dedicated to introducing the quieter side of Christian practice, featuring a new writer every week. These are all from men or women who have been able to connect with God in the middle of the noise–often using spiritual disciplines that are very similar to those found throughout historical Christianity. I’ve asked these authors to share details about what their practices look like, to include us all in the opportunity to take part! As far as the blog series goes, you can speak up at anytime. Ask questions of the writer, or of me. Add your experience. Your apprehensions. It’s an open place. We’re all exploring. And may you be refreshed as you return to first things.


So far, we’ve looked at Contemplative Prayer, and Cultivating a Lifestyle of Listening, and Meditating on God’s Word. Now, we’ll witness a mix of ancient church practice with a bit of the arts.

When I first learned that Christina married the tenured practice of journaling with hip-hop music, I must admit, I was intrigued. I know a few people who express their thoughts and prayers, examine their hearts, and confess their sins to God through journaling, but to intermingle this spiritual discipline with music is unique. I wanted to hear what she had to say, but I knew it would be too good to keep for myself. So we present it to you for your joy. For those who want to learn how to engage the soul in the disciplined art of journaling, Christina will, of course, lay out some helpful steps; much of this can work with or without music. But what I love about her approach is that you don’t have to constrain yourself with rigid formulas. Who’s to say you have to practice the presence of God exactly like Brother Lawrence, or balance your life just like Benedict of Nursia, or enjoy Lectio Divina only as outlined by Guigo? The point of any spiritual discipline is to connect your soul to the Christ who is already in you. It is not to fill a quota, check off a spiritual to-do list, or feel righteous about one’s ability to replicate someone else’s regimen. And for Christina, well…it seems her combination of writing mixed with the infectious sounds of a beat have done what was needed to help center her soul on God. I hope it greets you with refreshing intensity. I also hope it opens your eyes and heart to a world of spiritual creativity.

The rest of this post is in Christina’s words…

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I am currently transitioning out of full time ministry that I have been engaged in the last two years.  I am moving towards being used as a vessel of the Lord to be catalytic in the awareness and participation of African- Americans in global missions work.  I am originally from Southern California but now I live in Orlando, Florida.  Graduated from UCSB in 2012.  Studied black studies, minored in applied psychology and education.  I’ve known and loved Jesus as much as I knew how since I was five years old, but I’ve truly and wholly been walking with the Lord for the last six years.  I have five siblings ranging from ages twenty-five to three.  I am an auntie of one sweet baby girl who will be one soon.  I have lots of friends in California that I love and dearly miss.  I love all things creative and cozy.  I enjoy cooking, eating, writing, singing, dancing, and Spotify.  I am thoroughly amused by dry and corny humor.  It’s the best when I am the only one laughing at a joke in a large group setting.  I especially love word crafting like that expressed in spoken Word, poetry and Hip-Hop music. 

Hip Hop, dare I say, is the language of my soul.

These wordsmiths say what I would say in a way they thought of first.  My first experience with hip-hop that exalted the God of Heaven and preached the truth of the Gospel was through a friend of mine, Barry Moore, my senior year in high school.  He met Jesus; gave his life to him and renounced all things against the Lord.  For him, part of that meant throwing away his extensive music collection and replacing it, to which we both benefited from during rides to and from school.  Then my freshmen year in college when I said no more to my divided heart, the Lord used this Hip-hop, alongside a church I love, to take my understanding of the Gospel from a hundred to about a thousand!  Yet, it is ever increasing even now.  I love Hip-hop music because artists can use such a small amount of time to say so much, and when you are speaking of an infinite God with infinite love, I say what better way than through a few 16s (or verses) over some incredibly engineered beats.

Journaling is gathering your thoughts, processing your feelings, remembering, dreaming, celebrating, etc., by writing these things down in a notebook. Read the rest of this entry

Meditating on God’s Word, a guest post by Jason Lomelino

I’ve been looking forward to to this weeks post in A Contemplative Approach To Christianity.

This series is dedicated to introducing the quieter side of Christian practice, featuring a new writer every week. These are all from men or women who have been able to connect with God in the middle of the noise–often using spiritual disciplines that are very similar to those found throughout the history of ancient Christian church. I’ve also asked these authors to share details about what their practices look like, should any of you wish to partake. I hope this series has been as refreshing for you as it has for me! 

So far, we’ve looked at Contemplative Prayer, and Cultivating a Lifestyle of Listening. Now, let’s move on to a personal favorite of mine–and one which I believe all others to hinge on–the meditation on God’s word.


I don’t think I know a better person to share about meditating on God’s word than my friend, Jason Lomelino.

Jason is a pastor at Isla Vista Church, where he, his wife, Holly, and their five kids live and do ministry together. They are a compelling presence of God’s love in a city that never slows down. I’ve heard many testimonies of transformation in people from Isla Vista and UCSB by God through the Lomelino family. (You can read some of their stories in Jason’s book, Jesus Burgers). I experienced this “presence” during a public worship night on the UCSB campus in the aftermath of the much publicized shootings that took place there. Jason addressed the crowd of hundreds with fatherly love, brotherly tears, and the mercies of God that night. I wondered how he was able to pour out so much love during a time when his heart was so broken. But now I understand. After reading his essay, you’ll understand too.

The rest of this post is in Jason’s words…

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I am originally from San Diego and every year in Carlsbad these extraordinary colorful flowers bloom on a fifty-acre hillside that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  It is breathtaking, even from your car as you drive by the hillside.  However, the majority of locals are content with just viewing them from their car as they drive by.  They don’t want to spend the time to slow down and get out of their car to view this work of art up close.  But in order to really enjoy the flowers, one must slow down and go walk amongst them.  Meditating on the Word is a similar experience. 

There is something special about slowing down, turning off distractions, and opening your heart and life to God through His Word.  There are many ways to grow deeper in our relationship with God; some may call them spiritual disciplines.  Yet I have not found any of them to be richer or more rewarding than meditating on the Word of God.  Many Christians know we are called to meditate on the Word, though in my experience few actually know how to do it, and even fewer actually do it.

Meditating on the Word is not about how much you read but the way you read it.   Read the rest of this entry

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