The Loudmouth Protestant

September 30, 2007

A Call to Prayer

Filed under: God,Islam,Muslim,prayer — nickisym @ 10:02 pm

Yesterday evening I was in the area known as–at least to me–as Little Islam. Like many “Littles” in major cities, it is an area concentrated with merchants that sell goods intrinsic to the culture. For this area, hijabs, burkas, abayas, incense, uncut oils, dates, foodstuffs and other products were the de riguer. This isn’t the first time I walked through the area, but on this day it had different meaning.

As I walked through this “Little,” I heard something hauntingly beautiful. It started out as a mere jumble of words that I heard about every 45 seconds and I couldn’t get it out of my head. As the chant–formally called adhan–continued, I saw people shutting down shop and running toward the call. Suddenly I stopped, turned around and started to walk toward the ahdan.

After walking a couple of inches I found the place from which the ahdan originated. It was a mosque set into the Brooklyn landscape. It was a “blink and you miss it” edifice but the people that needed to find it would know exactly where to go. I stood in front of the mosque while the muadhin–the person responsible for the adhan–chanted, I was entranced.

I was amazed because of the amazing ways God shows himself to me and lets me know what I need to do. You see, what I picked up from that moment is that God indeed calls us to pray during times other than our normal morning and evening prayers but we aren’t always listening. He wants us to pray more and maybe it doesn’t mean you increase the number of times you pray in a day but you can increase the amount of time you spend in one prayer.

To bring it back to the faith, this morning a pastor preached from II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” He [the pastor] said that we must do our part by humbling ourselves, pray and seek God’s face.

So we must do our part. How will you?

I’m Scared…

Filed under: music,randomness — nickisym @ 12:24 am
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I am huge Jill Scott fan, I love her music, I love her spirit, I love that she is an African-American woman representing for full-figured women. She’s beautiful and the music she makes is complementary to that beauty, but for some reason with all this love I have for Jill, I was not aware that her album came out on Tuesday. Me, of all people, not knowing when her album came out? There must be some kind of problem.

So this evening I decided to purchase the album but something strange happened.

When I got home I didn’t anxiously rip the cellophane off of the CD–what’s going on? I thought she would be my cleaning music, but I instead opted for Hezekiah Walker who was definitely the better portion. Finally I had a moment to open the CD and what I saw inside was shocking. Here is what it said:

“While the album is not laced with traditionally “banned” words, it does contain selections that may be deemed erotic in nature dealing with explicit content.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes and I didn’t much feel like exposing my ears to it–needless to say I haven’t even listened to the CD because I am a little concerned for my flesh. It’s not to say that I don’t still love Jill, I do. I’ve got nothing but love for her, but it might be a while before I have a listen to this new album. Can those of you that own it let me know what the “safe” songs are so that I don’t have to totally forsake her?

September 29, 2007

Dream, Dream, Dream

Filed under: dreams,life,randomness — nickisym @ 12:12 pm
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By now you all know that I have an active dream life. Maybe you would typify it as overactive. Last night I welcomed my latest dreamscape which was my most disturbing to date. I guess it could be called a nightmare, but it wasn’t scary as much as it was utterly disturbing.

I fell asleep last night in a rather strange manner. The tv, computer and my lights were on. My clothes from the previous day were still on and I was sleeping on top of the covers. This probably has no bearing on why my dream was the way it was but I thought I’d give you a setting.

Now to the dream.

It was like any ordinary day except my ordinary day was taking place in London. It appears that I lived in London–which isn’t too far fetched because my fantasy is to move to London and work in a pastry shop. Some of my good friends were also with me and we were all hanging outside of a local shop. While we were all chatting our recently married friends came up to us. They looked rather flustered and kind of unhinged but their presence was short-lived. Next thing I know, I was on an escalator heading up to a beauty salon. I was waiting for a very long time to be served when I decided to look in my compact mirror only to be taken aback…My two front teeth were missing. I screamed internally and closed my mouth immediately. I looked again throughout the course of the day only to realize that they were still missing. I was scared to death because of all teeth to have missing I figured that it shouldn’t be my two front teeth. I also didn’t know why they were missing. There was never a sign of them being loose and my teeth were in excellent condition, so I couldn’t figure out why they were gone. I didn’t even know where they went. I managed to keep my mouth closed throughout the course of my time in the salon, but I was torn up inside.

I awoke this morning still very disturbed and of course I went to the mirror to check to see if they were still there. (They are). After my quiet time, I decided to look up the meaning of lost teeth in a dream dictionary online and here is what it had to say:

“A dream about losing teeth, or discovering missing teeth, can indicate a feeling or a fear that something has caused you to lose a healthy balance within your physical body or within your mental state or life.”

Hmm interesting…I won’t tell…

September 28, 2007

Myron is Back!

Filed under: God,gospel music,life,music,Myron Butler — nickisym @ 3:02 pm

No I didn’t find his new album yet, but a gem from his last CD was brought to rememberance thanks to the good folks at Yahoo music.

I thought it was going to be a sad music day for me. When I boarded the train this morning to head to work, I dutifully pulled out my iPod only to find that there were no songs on it. How could this be, you ask? I don’t even know, but I know it has been acting up in such a way that I’ve been considering saving up for a new one. So with no music I was left to my own devices so I chose the first best thing, to read my Bible–the book of Amos to be exact. But unfortunately I can’t read the Bible throughout business hours so that is where the iPod dilemma showed itself. With no music to listen to, the prospect of my staying in high spirits and alert were very slim until I recalled my good and faithful servant Yahoo music.

I started out on the Today’s R&B station thinking I’d change it up but I became utterly annoyed–more on that later. So I went back to the “tried and true” gospel station. It was there that I found Myron again. His song “You Will Survive” started to play, a song that has brought me to tears on many occasions but today was different. The boldface verse was, “When life’s ups and downs get the best of you, know that God ordained it to bless you.” With a smile on my face I nodded in agreeance and I discovered something new.

Every trial and triumph in my life–also a part of the song–was ordained by God. The roller coaster of emotions that I am often on is evidence of God. At my peak, God is with me. And when I am low down in the valley he is there to bring me out. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t seek refuge in him during those low times and he didn’t bring me out. Even now as I struggle with my season of singleness, he is sustaining me and giving me strength to hold on to the promise he gave me. I even understand now that the promise is written on my heart because I can feel it–more on this later too. I know the desires of my heart and so does He.

Amazing that this could all come from a song, but you understand a little bit more about why I need the new CD in my life.

September 27, 2007

It’s Not About the Money…

Filed under: God,life — nickisym @ 1:36 pm
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Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about the way in which we view money and I came to the realization later on that night that it isn’t nearly as serious as we make it to be. What I realized is that we spend entirely too much time worrying about getting what we want while not acknowledging that our needs have been provided for by God. When did we change our focus from need-based to want-based?

We focus on home ownership in a time when some can’t even rent an apartment and there are no spaces in the shelters. We think about buying expensive clothes and shoes but we when faced with the task of writing our tithe checks we choke. Our priorities are so messed up because we’ve become more interested in glorifying our flesh and less in building the kingdom.

I know not everyone has that outlook, but it occurs to me that I spend lots of time worrying about what I want when all that I need I have. I have the basic necessities provided for: shelter, food, clothing. My bills are paid. And maybe there is even money left over to go out to the movies, buy a CD or some other little indulgence. But yet and still I’m worrying about big expenditures that aren’t absolutely necessary to my livelihood. I’m worried about my Blackberry, my iPod, the home that I want to buy. I’m concerned about how to save for a pair of Christian Louboutin’s and steadily trying to figure out how to get more clothes for the fall so I can be appropriately stylish, but none of this matters.

Consider how foolish our conversations sound to people who don’t even have a tenth of what we have. Desiring to buy a home even seems foolish in the eyes of someone who can barely rent an apartment or one that lives in a hut in a Third World country. As always I must disclaim that I am not against upward mobility because I want it for myself, but I must admit that sometimes I wonder if even striving for the bigger things in life are not hindrances to helping out the less fortunate.

It all goes back to live simply so that other may simply live. Remember Christ didn’t sacrifice himself so that we could worry about such foolish things.

The Truth Hurts…

Filed under: friends,life,randomness — nickisym @ 10:23 am
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There is something that I must tell a friend but everytime I say I will I can never find the words to say it. The trouble is, I am more concerned about hurting the person’s feelings and that means much more to me than the resolution of the problem. I’ve had countless opportunities to broach the topic and I’ve talked to God about it many times over but still I can’t find the words to say.

I’ve spoken to others about the situation and they tell me I am not being a good friend, but they too are privy to the problem and not saying anything about it so they can classify themselves the same. People make the excuse of not knowing the person that well but they know the problem very well. People make seniority in time known a case when they’ve had much tenure with the problem. At this point no one is excused. This past weekend a friend told me that we are to be good stewards over everything including our friendships and that hit me hard. After hearing that, I purposed in myself to tell the person. I set the day and the time and even had a rough draft of how I might say it. But when the day came I was rendered speechless.

You see, people believe it is so easy to tell a friend the truth. They say “Just do it.” But what they forget is how much the truth hurts. Sure it is for their benefit in the end but I personally cannot bear the burden of hurting someone’s feelings like that. It almost makes me feel as if I am not the chosen one to break it to the friend because I have sought divine counsel for this situation.

I just don’t know anymore. Am I taking it too seriously? Do I just man-up and do it? Or am I justified in being concerned about my friend’s feeling before the resolution for the problem?

September 26, 2007

Still No Myron But…

Filed under: Uncategorized — nickisym @ 6:56 pm

essentialhez.jpg

Today I was still thinking about Myron’s Butler’s CD. Since my original post on the topic I have not ventured out to search for the CD since then, but today I was thinking about getting a replacement. The last time I looked for Myron I ran into Izzy. I’ve been thinking about Izzy since then because he looks like he makes good music, but then I was side-tracked…

As I sat at a colleague’s desk learning yet another thing to add to my list of things, my eyes locked with two CDs on her desk. One was the “Essential Fred Hammond” and the other was “The Essential Hezekiah Walker.”

“Jackpot!” I thought to myself. This is a God-send. I was anxious to tell her how much I desired these CDs but I bit my tongue until our business was complete. Once done I jumped at the chance to mention the two discs and she jumped at the chance to let me borrow them for a moment in time.

“Oh joy!” It was like Christmas come early. I was more excited about Fred than Hezekiah but for some reason I decided to listen to Hezekiah first. Once I heard the first song it was clear that God was up to something. I couldn’t stop swaying, bopping, smiling and praising him–all with limited movement and inaudible noise.

This two-disc set is the best thing since sliced bread and the greatest thing is, I had no idea I knew most of the songs. You see, I am a late bloomer in the gospel music department so of course Hezzie–as I now call him–was a perfect stranger. But thanks to many a Sunday at the cathedral, I can say that I am very familiar with his music.

Who would have thought that on this very ordinary day that in an extraordinary way God would bless me this way? Here I thought I’d have to troll around town looking for new music and it was right there within reach the whole time.

So if you are looking for some new music, check out The Essential Hezekiah Walker. I’ll let you know about Essential Fred later after the wheels fall off of Hezzie.

Inspired By…

Filed under: Uncategorized — nickisym @ 4:16 pm

My previous post on the struggle for relevance was inspired by this excerpt from a writer whose work I am starting to appreciate.

Read the excerpt here: Jesus and The Temptation to Be Relevant

The Struggle To Be Relevant

Filed under: bible,God,Jesus,ministry,religion — nickisym @ 3:17 pm
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When faced with the thought of whether I am being totally productive in my walk, I go back to works done. I think about how many times I’ve done community service, how I should have gone to pray in the projects, how I should have given money to that homeless person I walked by. I just have this tendency to equate success in the Christian walk with amount of work done on behalf of it and for some time it has been plaguing me. There are people that over-extend themselves in service to the Lord and look at it as their reasonable service. They believe they are doing big things and attending to kingdom business because they are being intentionally busy in their service unto God. And there is nothing wrong with that but my question is, “How much of ministry and service to God is about doing vs. being?

I ponder this because every so often I get stressed out that I am not “doing” enough. I feel I am never out in the field laying my hands to the obvious plow. But then someone will stop me and tell me that another was touched by something I said. Someone was encouraged by a word. Someone was blessed by something I gave them or something I wrote. Because of this, I’ve been redefining what it ministry mean.

Not everyone is called to foreign missionary status or to serve in soup kitchens or to intercessory prayer or whatever multitude of activities a church might officiate to get their congregation involved. Bigger than organized religion and the activity it dictates as necessary for Christians to be involved in is that the fact that the individual must “be” a servant outside of this construct.

My thought lately has been that if I do nothing else, I make sure that I am doing what is necessary according to the word of God. Psalm 21:6 says that we are made blessed to be a blessing forever. We are blessed to be a blessing in our spheres of influence. That means you are a blessing in every place that you go day to day. On your block, on the train, on the bus, in your car, on the job, in school, in the store, etc. Wherever you go, you should be a blessing unto others and I have found that in being that blessing to other you are spreading the good news. A while ago a preacher told me that Christians are to show the world what life is like in heaven. He challenged us to let the Jesus inside of us speak because as Christians we are not called to debate anyone. Dare I say we are not called to proselytize in the way that some denomination do because that isn’t showing the love of Christ or the mannerism of our awesome God.

Don’t let me be misunderstood, I am not saying that organized ministry is a waste, but what I am saying is that at no point should you beat yourself up if you find yourself not involved in it. If you are truly representing the kingdom of God, your daily life will be a reflection of it. You will touch people without knowing it even if it wasn’t intentional–I can say this because it has happened in my own life. When I look at what others do and frown upon myself for not doing the same thing, I am constantly reminded that my place in ministry is markedly different.

So don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses of ministry, just worry about how your walk will help you to be the 67th book of the Bible because you might be the only Bible that some people read.

Confirmation

Filed under: advice,bible,christians,God — nickisym @ 8:21 am
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Yesterday evening I was speaking to a friend about a situation at hand. I was telling her that I wanted to confide in another friend and ask them for the advice regarding the situation but she suggested that I ask another friend who she believed would be more than capable of giving me wise counsel because she recently got married. I agreed with my friend to a point but I was more interested in hearing what the other friend had to say because I knew his advice would come from a unfettered unemotional place. As we discussed the benefits of going to either person, I ended my call with her by saying that I would just go ahead and ask the greatest guru available, God. I said that only he could answer my question the way it needs to be answered and she said “That’s true,” and we left it at that.

So this morning as I prepared for my quiet time with God, I flipped through Charles Stanley’s “Into His Presence,” which I had not read in a couple of weeks because I was determined to refresh my devotional time. But instead of turning to the reading meant for this morning, the book stopped on September 22nd. Interesting I thought to myself because September 22nd was the day of my friend’s wedding and also the day that started the conversation that prompted me to make the other friend my guru because he had given me some incredible advice.

The reading was called “Discerning Godly Counsel” and the scripture reading was from I Kings 12:1-19. The scripture was about the revolt that was lead against Rehoboam. Rehoboam was to be king of Israel but the people wanted him the lighten the yoke that his father Solomon had put upon them. Of course Rehoboam did not know what to do on his own, so we sought counsel in two groups of people. He first went to the elders that stood before his father Solomon and they told him that if he would serve the people and speak good words to them, then they would be his servants forever. Rehoboam wasn’t satisfied with this word so he went to his friends who grew up with him. They told him that he should make their burdens heavier and scourge them. This was fitting advice for him and he followed suit by telling the people that this was his plan. Well clearly they weren’t pleased so they led a revolt against him.

Amazed at this biblical example of following the wrong counsel I went back to the devotional reading to see what Dr. Stanley had gleaned from it and this is what he said:

“Make sure the counsel you receive is from God. Don’t be quick to react to the words of others. Instead, spend time in prayer asking the Lord to confirm, guide, and provide the wisdom you need.”

“Wow!” I thought to myself. I wasn’t thinking anything about that conversation when I woke up but God knew that somehow he had to let me know which way to go. So now I know my last thought of just asking my guru God was the next right thing to do. But for some reason I am thinking which of my friends represent the elderly counsel and which the friend counsel?

Either way, I got the word that I needed.

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