by Ernest Liu
about the author

  • Random Snippets
    • Read It
      Pray. Then read the Gospels for yourself. Put this book down and pick up your Bible. My prayer for you is that…
    • When Asking for Prayer…
      Okay… not so wonderful. She asked me if I had talked to God myself…
    • How Not to Ask For Counseling
      My pastor told me that when most people go to them for advice, they don't really go for the advice. They just want to hear the pastor affirm or justify their concerns.
  • Why Christians Need to Listen to NF

    I carefully take us through winding roads as the sun sinks behind the mountains. Next to me is the pastor’s daughter. We have about an hour to kill before arriving at the campgrounds, and I’m only good at holding a conversation for so long. Keeping my eyes on the road, I ask, “Mind if I put on some rap?”

    “Sure.”

    I am pretty confident that she had never listened to NF. And I am right. It’s not the typical kind of music you would find on a Christian’s playlist. After all, we are called to fill our minds with holy things (Phil 4:8), and that easily rules out most rappers.

    I put on a track. The music’s tame by NF’s usual standards, but it’s still intense. The rapper weaves together the irony that afflicts the skeptic and nominal christian:

    When ya healthy it’s like, we don’t really care for Him then
    Leave me alone God, I’ll call you when I need you again
    Which is funny, everyone will sleep in the pews
    Then blame God for our problems like He sleeping on you
    We turn our backs on Him, what do you expect Him to do?
    It’s hard to answer prayers when nobody’s praying to you

    Oh Lord, NF

    She’s not the first Christian I’ve exposed to NF. This track is usually the way I start them off, as it points out the reality of how people interact with God. It’s a very pro-Christian rap, a good gateway to the rest of his repertoire.

    “Here’s another one…” I say as I navigate to another track. This one’s different.

    It took everything inside of me not to scream at your funeral
    Sitting in my chair, that person talking was pitiful
    I wish you were here mama but every time I picture you
    All I feel is pain, I hate the way I remember you
    They found you on the floor, I could tell that you felt hollow
    Gave everything you had plus your life to them pill bottles

    How Could You Leave Us, NF

    This rap isn’t about God. NF had an excruciating childhood, and it still plagues him. For the next five minutes, he takes his pain to the mic, and we listen to him agonize over the fact that his mom chose her pills over her children.

    “More Christians need to listen to NF,” I tell my passenger. “For a lot of us who grew up in church, we’re so sheltered that we’re blind to the hurt and depression others carry around all their lives.”

    One thing I learned is that NF isn’t a Christian rapper. While he’s a Christian, he doesn’t build the kingdom of God by producing a ton of tracks about God. He does it by wrapping his torturous moments in his albums. He highlights his suicidal thoughts and avoids giving superficial hope. He shows the world that pain is real. He empathizes with his fanbase, and people tell him that he’s the reason they’re alive.

    Christians need to listen to NF—especially those who grew up in a relatively stable environment without debilitating struggles. It’ll expose us to new dimensions of the spiritual battle. It’ll help us be more gentle when we counsel. It’ll move us to know that when life is Hell, we’re not alone.

    It has helped me learn to be a better friend to my friends. It has helped me become more empathetic to those with hard lives, wether due to circumstances or just because mental health is difficult to maintain.

    I’ve created an NF Starter Pack on Spotify. Take a listen. A real listen. The lyrics matter.