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Tips for the College Graduate

May 11, 2010 2 comments

As many of you (or maybe your son or daughter) graduate in the next few weeks and embark on a new life, remember that all your dreams are at arms length. The economy, people, family, friends might tell you one thing but following your dream will be the best thing to do. Here are a few tips to take as you set sail.

  1. Current Resume: One of the worst things not to have at this point is a current, clean and professional resume. Most interviews after college are formatted in the style of behavioral and situational questions.  Your future employer wants to see how your personal or collegiate experiences can be applied to daily task on the job.  Knowing your resume inside and out and being prepared with examples for each item on your resume are highly suggested.
  2. Got Loans?: Every graduate breath a sigh of relief when you find out that most loans are deferred for six months after graduation. For those of you that have jobs upon graduation began paying yourself. If your loans are expected to be $400/month save that amount monthly in the bank. This will ensure that you are not caught off guard in November and it will establish a habit of paying your debt. Lastly, should you ever face tough time you will have $2400 to cover your loans to prevent default and severe interest penalties.
  3. Keep in Contact: Keeping contact with college friends is a must; you will be able to share experiences and help each other through the transition. This keeps communication open and can help if you lose or need a job. Also keep constant dialogue with professors as they can help with reference letters, recommendations and possible employment opportunities.
  4. Explore more education: I know many are tired of school after 4 or 5 years of undergrad, but take a brief break and get back to it. From personal experience its best just to keep going, don’t stop, and get ahead as early as you can!
  5. Dream Realistically: Dreaming and hoping is the cornerstone of any graduate. But be sure your dreams are in a scope of reality. The chance of you becoming CEO in five years with a bachelor degree is quite lofty. Be sure to plan reasonable and push toward your dream. It is said that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and your career won’t be either.

I hope these five tips help you on your journey to the real world. The transition can be easy if you have a plan and a few back up plans. Don’t get discouraged when things don’t work out the first time. Stay focused and remember that your greatness lies within your Authority to be great.

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Categories: Youth

JProphet raps ‘for God, for Yale’

By Liane Membis

Senior and Yale Bulldogs running back Rodney Reynolds ’10 has left the field for a new project: his musical ministry. Liane Membis interviews Reynolds about his new album, Ghostwriter Vol. 3, and his musical journey for Christ through gospel rap. The former running back for the Bulldogs, who on the field used to turn up the heat, is now spitting rhymes over spiritual beats.

Rodney Reynolds ’10, an African American studies major who has launched his musical career in holy hip-hop at Yale, will be performing this summer in his first tour, “Sweet Music to My Fears,” which will include performances by JProphet (Reynolds’ stage name) and fellow rapper Antoine Dolberry. The two will tour in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

JProphet

Rodney Reynolds ’10 started making music while still at Yale.

“I’m taking a step out on faith, because I’m starting to think this is absurd myself,” Reynolds said. “But I’m trying to be obedient to what I feel like I’m being called to do.”

Reynolds has been involved with music since the age of 14, when he began rapping and writing songs for leisure. He began working on pieces for his album last summer, developed a website, and has released an album and two mix tapes while at Yale, including his most recent work, “The Fullness Thereof” which was released on March 27.

Reynolds said he was inspired by Psalm 24:1, which reads, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” adding that he believes all beats and instruments can be used to glorify God.

He is currently busy planning his upcoming northeast tour, securing performance spaces at churches and community organizations, booking shows and working on promotion.

His manager Davida McGhee ’10 said that despite all her help, Reynolds never stops trying to get it right on his own.

“As a true artist, J Prophet is always refining his craft,” McGhee said. “He’s constantly writing, recording, finding new beats — you name it. There’s no rest for the weary in the music industry, so there isn’t a day that goes by without discussion of how to improve and where to go from there.”

But creating the lyrics for a song takes a large amount of time, Reynolds said.

“I don’t really sleep much anymore because I stay up later now to either do work or write and record music,” Reynolds said. “Still, recording while being a full-time student has also made me a more efficient musician I think.”

Hayling Price, a friend he grew up with in church and his first producer, said though he believes in his friend, Reynolds’ challenge will be to rise beyond being simply another holy hop artist in today’s world.

“Though the market for this particular art certainly exists, religion is always stigmatized, making stereotypical success much more difficult to attain,” said Jarren Simmons, another of Reynolds’ producers.

Getting visibility and funding are a large part of the difficulties that face the budding rapper, he added.

Though Reynolds is still an unsigned artist, he said topping the Billboard charts is the least of his concerns. Reynolds said he does it all to preach one central message: to let go and spread God’s word.

His tour will run from June 11 to July 30.

SUCCESSFULLY SINGLE |Relationships Can Make or Break You!

By Michelle Mckinney Hammond

Because you were created to connect to others your relationships can make or break you. “Right” associations can empower you to make good choices that cause you to flourish; conversely, “wrong” associations can send you down the wide garden path to destruction. Your relationships affect your balance, outlook, and attitude toward life; they also color your actions, which can work for or against you. Relation- ships are a pillar of support; you can’t live without them.

There are three areas of relationship that solidify the foundation of your life and fortify you to stand no matter what elements or circumstances confront you:  Your relationship with God, Your relationship with yourself, Your interpersonal relationships with your mate, family, friends, co-workers, and associates.

Only after having a relationship with God can you have the type of relationship with yourself to produce fruitful relationships with others. You cannot love what you don’t know (whether that’s God or yourself). Being able to truthfully assess yourself in light of what God has said about you helps you know your strengths and weaknesses and what you have to offer to the world at large. Knowing that you are a gift to the universe and the specifics of that capacity puts a smile on your face, a pep in your step and a generosity in your heart that cannot be worked up or purchased.

Jesus’ commandment to “love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength” (Mark 12:30), is essen- tial; as well, His next commandment—“love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) is just as critical. It implies that you must first love you! Not in a self-involved, self consumed, narcissistic way, but in a way that exudes that you are accept- ing of who you are and the way God created you. You are alright with the world and at peace with yourself; you like the skin you are in and have a healthy understanding of your own personal value. I have a friend who once told me, “If I met myself walk- ing down the street, I would want to be my friend.” I recall thinking at the time what an awesome concept that was to have such a healthy appreciation of yourself that you could say such a thing! (I was certainly not there at the time.)

Amazing and fruitful relationships with others begin with your relationship with yourself. If you know and love your- self you will have no problem loving others. Everyone wants to be around someone who encourages and celebrates them. If you don’t know or love yourself, you will be much more prone to criticize others. Discomfort with yourself can be felt by others, and will only deepen your rejection complex, because others will likely shun you; they might not even know why. Most people just have the instinct to avoid those who are not happy campers.

Let’s face it. Everyone struggles with issues in life and people are always looking for a happy distraction. Depending on where you are with yourself, you might be- come someone’s pleasant diversion. Knowing yourself, being honest about what you need to fix, tighten up or overhaul as well as appreciating the attractive features of who you are prepares you to be a major contributor to others. Loving yourself but at the same time being totally “over” yourself releases you to reach out to others in healing ways that build them up until they are healthy enough to do the same thing for others.

Everyone you touch should be the better for it, including family members, co-workers, neighbors (do you even know them?), and those you encounter daily. A good example to emulate is Dorcas (or Tabitha), who was so loving and caring that when she died the women gathered to mourn her death and rehearse her good deeds. (Acts 9:36) They were so deeply stricken and grieved by her passing that that they sent for one of the apostles, and when he came he was moved to raise her back to life! Now that’s what I’m talking about! Dorcas affected people’s lives so deeply and made such a great deposit that others couldn’t bear to be without her. In a sense, what you do for others will bring you back to life.

Your family is the training ground for all your other relationships. Family is the base of the pillar; friends and co- workers form the extension. Your relationships with others will only be as good as those that establish and define you from the very beginning of your life. Your life partner is your crown. This relationship will only be as secure as your other relationships beneath it.  Not only does your life partner “name” and “define” you in a sense, this person has the power to strengthen or weaken you; build you up or tear you down; and propel you into your destiny or rob you of it. This is the person you sleep with and is joined to you supernaturally.

The intimacy between you and your partner creates a bond more powerful than any other relationship you will have on the face of the earth. The sexual union surpasses the bond of your parents who had a hand in creating, birthing and nurturing you, because you literally become one with another human being. This creates a soul tie that connects and binds. Should this covenant connection be severed, it is almost like an amputation. The pangs of your missing partner are felt long after their departure. This is called “phantom pain”—similar to when a physical limb is removed. The commitment to “for- ever and ever, amen” is remembered by the soul long after it has been abandoned by the intellect. You are expected to leave mother and father and cleave to your mate—becoming one—in a connection that was not meant to be severed. (Gen. 2:24) A covenant union is so intense that when built according to the Manufacturer’s design it should empower both part- ners to be more effective and fruitful than ever before. Make rich relationships a priority, because they will ulti- mately affect the quality of your life and how it works over- all.

Remember, every success and failure you have in life will ultimately be traced back to a relationship, therefore, choose them carefully.

– Michelle Mckinney Hammond is a popular speaker, singer, and bestselling author. Her underlying message is “get yourself in spiritual order and your natural life will come together.” Visit her at MichelleHammond.com.

Kirk Franklin Just following the blueprint…

April 27, 2010 4 comments

Kirk Franklin has been on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns—the journey called “life.” From his humble beginnings as a child who was raised by an older aunt to the heady, multi-platinum success of the record industry, Kirk’s life has been a myriad of high highs and low lows. The highs included becoming one of the most popular and successful Gospel artists in history; the lows witnessed devastating professional and personal disappointments from deals that didn’t pan out, to a public admission of addiction to pornography.

But Franklin is not just a conqueror, he is an overcomer. His testimony was the subject of the book “Church Boy: My Music & My Life” which was released in 1998. Now comes a book to help others conquer and overcome their challenges. The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life’s Storms (Release date: May 18, 2010). Gospel Today spoke with Kirk recently about his evolution and the new book.

Here’s what Kirk had to say…
Over the past 15 to 20 years, I’ve been trying to be obedient to whatever process I saw God’s hand working out in me no matter how painful or embarrassing. It’s not easy because it’s a process that I didn’t have control over.
I’ve had lots of experiences in my life and I hope it has resulted in me giving God the “pen” and letting Him “write” the script for my life, and not trying to tell Him how the climax of the story should be or how the ending should go.

I remember back in 2001. I did a couple projects (CDs) that didn’t do well, and I was going through some legal battles and I wasn’t getting many dates [bookings]. I’ll never forget the day that John P. Kee called me and asked, “Hey! What’ve you been up to? I haven’t been seeing you. What’s been going on?” And the temptation was to make up some- thing, because not being busy was like not being ‘used’ [by God]; and that’s just such a lie; because there are times when God just has us on the “other side” of the mountain, just to be quiet for a while. But I knew that how I responded to John would show the Lord if I had really learned the lesson. So I told him, “Man, you know what? I haven’t been doing anything.” And that was very hard for me. It was hard because I knew how that looked— like it was a wrap! But I just knew that how I responded was just a test to show God whether I was learning what I was supposed to.

What do you say to those young artists who are struggling to get their careers going?

People out here in the music industry trying to make it have got to submit and surrender and be obedient to those people that they know God has put in their life. They have to be accountable; that’s the hardest thing. A lot of artists want to hear preachers preach, but they don’t want to be pastored.

My book, Blueprint talks about how Christians are supposed to be on God’s agenda. We are supposed to fall in line with God’s order. The book is based on a conservative, evangelical approach to Scripture; it’s not based on what’s happening socially. It’s about how Scripture is applied to every area of our lives no matter if we have “swag” or if we’re from the projects or if we’re from the suburbs; or whether we’re single or married.

God has given us a “blueprint” for every area of life and we don’t need to add anything or take anything away from it, we just need to “rightly divide it.” Whenever, we do that, it will make sense to every area of life.

It’s important that we speak life into each other and into our children. I spent most of my life never dreaming., I never dreamed I’d be doing what I’m doing now, and the reason was that there was never any “practice dreaming.” I never knew that some things were possible because it was never spoken into me. My kids think that they can swing from the moon because my wife (Tammy) and I are always reminding them of the possibilities.

For people who are out there and are traumatized by life, I feel like they need to be part of the Church. That’s what the Church is for! The New Testament Church is supposed to be a community; a reference point to speak to realistic issues and be a support system. That’s why, we all—single people, married people, young and old—need to be part of the Church. There are still churches that are meeting needs. We just have to get to the place where we do our homework and find a church that will meet our needs; one that has the infrastructure that will help us through our situations. It doesn’t matter so much if the music isn’t that great or the pastor isn’t the best “whooper,” but if that church is helping to grow you up in the Word, then you need to go there.

I don’t know what’s next for me…and I think that’s good. I’m just being led [by God]. I’m a “soccer dad”! When I see people like Donnie (McClurkin), Smokie (Norful) Marvin (Sapp) and Hezekiah (Walker)—who are all artists that have become pastors, that’s not me. I’m not fighting back a passion to be a pastor. I’m honest about that. I speak or write a book when I’m invited to.

As it relates to my label (Fo Yo Soul Entertainment), we started the label right in the midst of the season where everything was being cut back economically, so we’ve been focusing more on non-musical streams of revenue, whether TV or movies. Right now, I’m putting together a TV idea, a “Touched by An Angel” meets “New York Undercover” type concept. I’m working on some other projects as well.

There are a lot of things that we can say about the down- turn in the Gospel industry. There’s a decline in church attendance in society overall. People are changing their views about faith, and I think that’s affecting music sales. We’ve also had some moral challenges in our industry, and I think that has affected whether people “connect” with our music; even though we’re all flawed people.

Overall, the whole music industry is being impacted. Music is something that has become more disposable. When you look and see phone companies that are giving away free downloads of songs to sell a phone; what they’re saying is that the phone is more valuable than the songs. It’s just the times we live in.
But I still have a passion to do music—even in the midst of all the challenges and changes, I’m just striving to make sure that I’m not doing it in ways that are contaminated. I don’t want to do another album because it’s time to do one. I’m trying to make sure that my motives are right and that I’m on God’s agenda.

Categories: Inspiration, Music, Youth