The Loudmouth Protestant

January 28, 2009

One Tree-Itis

No, this has nothing to do with “One Tree Hill” though I do watch the show from time to time–that Chad Michael Murray is so cute and in touch with his emotions. (And I digress) “One Tree-Itis” is a phrase that I learned through my Monday night Bible Study teacher, Chris Burge. It is typified as having an inordinate fixation on the one thing that is going wrong in your life or as I will apply it to my life right now, the one thing you can’t have by way of God. The origin of the “One Tree: comes from our sister Eve, who despite having a garden full of wonderful trees to feast on, decided she had to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil because she was tempted. Of all those beautiful and glorious trees that God created, she ate from that tree because of the serpent. That one tree changed the trajectory of Adam and Eve’s lives and the lives of everyone who came including us.

I too am dealing with my own one tree situation. As of Sunday I received a call from someone who first and foremost didn’t take the time to see how I was doing on a real level before he unloaded what he really thought about me. I won’t go through it, but the long story short is that he told me my behavior toward him was a turn-off and he blamed me for the way things developed in our friendship. I was hurt at the hearing of these words mostly because I know that I can’t take the full blame for it all and the behavior he spoke of was not present in me–but this is all pending clarification on what definition he was using.

So this is supposed to be a friend, not one of my closest because he barely knows enough about me to come at me the way he did and since Sunday I have been wracking my brain on how to respond to his allegations. How to convince him that I wasn’t the only one in the wrong. How to tell him I think he’s a bit delusional about how things fell apart with us. I’ve prayed to let this go peacefully and–I think–the devil would have me continually fret about this one person who decided they didn’t like me. Then I woke up this morning with a revelation about the situation. 

This situation and person is my one tree. I’ve been worrying about losing the one tree without realizing the garden of beautiful and beneficial trees that God put before me. He gave me awesome friends and family, my beautiful trees, who when I feast on them, they speak the truth in love to me and it’s clear. I know it because these are people that God sent into my life to be more than just a blip on the radar. 

But that’s what one tree will do to you. You will be worried about that one tree, that person you can’t have, the job you were denied, that thing you can’t eat, that dress you can’t wear. You worry about eating from it when God already told you no. You worry about touching it when God told you if you do, you will die. That one tree you are worried about, that one area of life you feel is in shambles so much to the point you let it steal your joy, can destroy you if you don’t leave it alone. How much more has God given you that He reserved for you that can give health and strength to your bones? Think on that. That one situation in your life is not the end all be all compared to the manifold blessings God has given you. 

My realization this morning was that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and God has given me a beautiful garden of trees. That one tree, if I continue to worry about it, will take me down with it. So today I promise myself and God not to let it overtake me in favor of eating from the other trees in the garden.

What’s your one tree?

January 27, 2009

LMP is 100% LDS!

Filed under: faith,religion,spirituality — nickisym @ 9:08 pm
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I just completed the Belief-o-Matic, Beliefnet’s personality quiz about faith and spirituality. I took it a few years ago and it turned out I was more of a Sikh than anything, but I suppose a few years makes a difference. Keep in mind that I’ve always been a Christian so the Sikh thing doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m not sure the LDS thing does either, but it was fun to answer the questions and get my results. Here’s the percentage breakdown of how much of each religion I am filled with:

 

1.  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (100%)
2.  Jehovah’s Witness (88%)
3.  Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (84%)
4.  Orthodox Quaker (81%)
5.  Orthodox Judaism (79%)
6.  Sikhism (77%)
7.  Islam (73%)
8.  Baha’i Faith (73%)
9.  Seventh Day Adventist (68%)
10.  Eastern Orthodox (68%)
11.  Roman Catholic (68%)
12.  Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (66%)
13.  Liberal Quakers (56%)
14.  Jainism (54%)
15.  Reform Judaism (53%)
16.  Hinduism (50%)
17.  Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (46%)
18.  Mahayana Buddhism (44%)
19.  Unitarian Universalism (44%)
20.  Theravada Buddhism (43%)
21.  Neo-Pagan (32%)
22.  Taoism (27%)
23.  Scientology (26%)
24.  New Age (26%)
25.  New Thought (25%)
26.  Secular Humanism (25%)
27.  Nontheist (17%)

Take the Belief-o-Matic and see what your faith is made of…Then if you’re so inclined, report your results here.

January 26, 2009

Counterfeit

Filed under: devil,life — nickisym @ 12:01 am
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My best friend’s husband just gave me this very on-time word:

“The devil always sends counterfeits when the real thing is on the way.”

In thee o God I put my trust.

January 16, 2009

Walking on Water

Filed under: faith,God,prayer — nickisym @ 4:26 pm
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This morning as I was getting for work, I saw an image of the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549. The picture depicted the passengers awaiting their rescue on the wing of the plane. Sure, that doesn’t sound interesting, but what’s incredible is that they were standing on the wing of the plane which was floating in the water–not sinking–and it appeared as if they were walking on water.

If you stopped by the site yesterday, you saw that I lent the victory of those people being rescued to God. And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that these people, who entrusted their lives to a pilot to fly them from point A to point B, had to step out of the plane–on faith–onto the wing, trusting that though they couldn’t see it, it was there. They wouldn’t fall into the water and drown, they only had to believe that there was something that would hold them above water. I don’t know how many people on the plane were believers, but it’s just more proof for me that God had his hand all over that plane.

From the Gothamist

From the Gothamist

January 15, 2009

US Airways, Flight 1549: The Saints Were Praying

Filed under: God,recent news — nickisym @ 6:31 pm
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The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16b (KJV)

When US Airways flight 1549 went down on the Hudson River this afternoon in New York, the prayers of the righteous were activated. As people in my office, myself included, gathered around computers to watch the live video of the rescue, there were saints praying. While I speculated and wondered how the passengers were doing, there were saints praying. Before the plane even took off from LaGuardia, there were saints praying. When the plane was simply afloat in the water—miraculously they say—there were saints praying. When I went to send up my own prayer for the passengers, crew and rescuers, there were saints praying. When every passenger and crew member was rescued from the plane, there were saints praying. Right now, there are saints praying.

And now everyone is wondering how the plane miraculously stayed afloat and how come no one was injured…There were saints praying. And when the saints go into prayer, God hears their call. How great is our God! Thank you Lord for saving those people.

January 14, 2009

The Realest Thing I’ve Ever Heard…

Filed under: God,Jesus,life — nickisym @ 11:35 pm
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I was sitting at my desk this afternoon, working and listening to my iPod, when Brenda Water’s “Absent from the Body: Present with the Lord” came on. It’s not my favorite song of hers and maybe it’s mostly because it’s about death. But despite my not liking the song, the concept of being absent from the body and present with the Lord is such a beautiful one. I believe I saw it best put by David A. Silva the author of “Sacramental of Life” who said, “…not only do our loved ones continue to exist but they also continue to be loved and cared for. Our loved ones may be cut off from our presence, but they are not cut off from God’s presence.”

When thinking of death, thoughts often go to the thereafter, whether it be heaven or hell. In Waters’ song, the words “Everyone talkin’ ’bout heaven ain’t going there” repeats in the background. A little intense? Sometimes it makes me feel like she is being way too intense and hasty with her words. Unfortunately–or fortunately–she’s not being hasty with her words. The reality is Waters wasn’t the first person to say that, Jesus was. He said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

It’s a hard reality to consider the fact that there are people you know–people I know–who are living a “good life” by worldly standards but not living the God life. They are doing just enough to get by without having to surrender themselves and truth is, play time is over. I’m no Nostradamus predicting that the world will come to an end in 2012–which I feel certain that it won’t since by biblical standards we know that no one will know the day or hour. But what I’m saying is, the time is now to get yourself right. It’s never too late. Stop crying “Lord, Lord” just when you need Him. Stop crying “Lord, Lord” on the Sundays you decide to go to church. Stop crying “Lord, Lord” when you don’t even understand the depths of what it means to call it His name and the power within it to heal, save and deliver. It’s time to get real. I didn’t intend for this post to turn out preach-y, but I see that’s where it went and I am sure it went that way for a reason. 

If you don’t know, now you know…(For all the folks running out to see “Notorious” this weekend. He’s gone, so what are you going to do with what’s left of your life?)

“Nah, We Straight”

Filed under: Barack Obama,randomness,video — nickisym @ 6:21 pm
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Like a shot heard around the world, our president-elect Barack Obama keeps hitting them with his hipster vibe when least expected. He’s already brushed the dirt off his shoulders,

and now, in his always effortless fashion, he proves to a worker at Ben’s Chilli Bowl that not only is he just like him, but he is determined to bring the bailout to main street by putting dollars back into the pockets of minimum-wage workers–directly.  

I’m not trying to idolize the man, but I will admit I love my future president strongly and will be praying him through. In the meantime, check out his word swag:

The 1st Rough Day in 2009

Filed under: God,life — nickisym @ 1:31 am
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I wasn’t feeling like Ice Cube on January 13th, yesterday wasn’t a good day. While I was fortunate to wake up in my right mind and have mobility of my limbs, the breath of life, etc, etc. The day just went from one dissapointment to the next without letting up–okay, it did let up but when you have nothing but yourself and you think in retrospect it can be slightly skewed.

It started when I checked my e-mail yesterday morning and saw that a deal fell through, then I went to work and sat in a meeting about the state of the company I heard about projects falling through and economic downturn and then I got home and thought about a friend I let fall through the cracks. In between all this news of things falling through, I had relatively high spirits. I kept my notebook with my Bible study notes and my Bible open to Proverbs 13:12, “Unrelenting dissapointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around.” That’s all I needed today, a good break.

I needed that when I woke up in the morning, there would be an e-mail that says “Congratulations the deal went through, here is your check.” Then when I sat through that meeting I needed them not to focus on economic downturn and the consequence thereof but to have a more obviously encouraging word and optimism that could keep me moving in the right direction. I needed that when I looked at my phone this evening and thought about reaching out to my friend that I didn’t feel like it was too little, too late and all my fault for being so high strung. 

The day ended with me crying. The first day in this new year that I have dropped a tear and it wasn’t because of anyone else but myself. I had to cry because I realized that all of the discontent heretofore is not because of other people but because of myself. You see, the deal this morning was simply me trying to make a profit off of something I probably have no business profiting off of. But I saw another friend’s great gain and thought I could do the same. I got shut down. And the situation at work and projects falling through and economic downturn, it’s our current reality so I can do nothing but deal with it. And that friend who I let fall through the cracks, well I let him fall through the cracks because I had a list a mile long of things I thought he did wrong but the reality of the situation is, I never came to him with that list and let him correct them, so of course I feel like a complete jerk now. 

This is a different kind of rough day because I am taking accountability for my emotions and not just seeking to blame the way I feel on other people. I could no longer be in denial, be delusional or place blame on anyone else. This was the reason why I was crying at the end of the evening. It’s so humbling when you turn the finger to point at you and realize that you can truly be your worst enemy. I wanted to pray and I could barely get any words out of my mouth save “God, just be enough for me.” At those words I turned out my light but couldn’t stop crying because of my current reality on Wednesday, January 14th at midnight. So, I did what I know how to do best, put my fingers and mind to work and shared it out through this post. I don’t have much more to say, but do know that my saying in this form has lifted my heart and spirits exponentially. I thank God for this gift–and for being the lifter of heavy burdens–and for you who thought it not robbery to read this.

Be Blessed

January 13, 2009

Sleeping with God

I have this friend. He’s a real enigma. Ever since my sophomore year in college, he has confounded me with his utter ridiculousness and beautiful genius all at the same time. He was the type that would come into the classroom and see all of us cramming and remark “Oh, we have a test?” Then when the grades were distributed for that same test that we all committed blood, sweat and tears to, to pass, he would calmly receive his A++. He boggles the mind.

After college he went on to make the most impossible career moves for an African-American man without the pedigree that the big city “requires.” He made Top 40 under 40 lists, Top 30 under 30 list, you name the list and he made it. If he didn’t make it it’s only because the list hadn’t been created yet. These were all amazing feats for someone who seemed to just fall into good situations. But it wasn’t what he was falling into, but who he was falling into it with…

While talking about this wunderkind with another friend, I realized what the key to his constant success is…Sleeping with God. You see, most people sleep their way to the top with mere mortals and beg to be in the good favor of people who are here today and gone tomorrow, but not my friend. He chose to sleep with the King of Kings to make it to the top. Now many of us are sleeping with God, but we may not be finessing him the way we need to. My friend has always had a way with words and has always been quite the charmer, so I have no doubt in my mind that he has been finessing God right and keeping it all to himself for all these years. Until now…

The key to success is in sleeping with God. It’s about really knowing how to be intimate with God first and foremost–say seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. I know for a fact that when he was on top of the world–in the eyes of the world–my friend was seeking God’s face on what’s next. Surely he was taken to the mountain and shown what could be his but he wasn’t content with that type of notoriety. He wanted to follow God’s path for him and drink from the brook of Zarephath and find provision in that dry place and then only leave when God told him to. This is what intimacy is all about, trust. We don’t quickly run into bed with someone we barely know–well some of us do, but the wise of us make sure we truly know the person and trust them before allowing them into such a sacred space. 

My dear friend has done nothing more than get close to his creator in hopes that he would live a life that is pleasing in his sight. I wish I could be more funny about the topic because I had planned to be, but the reality is we could all afford to sleep with God. We could all afford to be in the throes of passion with Him and be desperately in love with Him and only concerned about His thoughts toward us. (Now don’t be misled, I am not exalting my friend  into sainthood status, I’m simply using the metaphor I created for his life as an example to follow.)

So instead of one night stands with God when you need Him, how about creating a sustained, passionate relationship with Him. Why not sleep with God to get to the top–literally and figuratively. Now that’s what I call a real key to success.

January 12, 2009

Posthumous Pity Award

Filed under: Uncategorized — nickisym @ 2:41 pm
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I am still reeling at the fact that Heath Ledger won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for “Dark Knight.” It’s not that I think he didn’t deserve it–I guess in some way I don’t since I’m writing this post–but I am wondering if he were still alive would he have won it.

This is not rocket science to anyone who watches award shows, but just in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, there’s always been this tendency to give people who have died the awards they were nominated for thereafter. I used to think it was great. The stuff of sentimentality and true respect, but in this case, it skewed a little pitiful.

I respect Ledger’s performance as the Joker in “Dark Knight.” He was probably the best Joker I’ve ever seen. But I don’t think his was the best performance in the category. Two of the nominees in the category were worthy of the shaft–sure Tom Cruise played the hell out of his larger than life Jewish movie exec in “Tropic Thunder” and Robert Downey Jr. was the best white man playing a black man for a movie within a movie, but neither performance was so groundbreaking on its own. My bet was on Ralph Fiennes or Phillip Seymour Hoffman–moreso the latter because I loved “Doubt” and I think Hoffman is brilliant.

So Cruise and Downey had to know they weren’t going to get a GG for their performance, but Hoffman and Fiennes, two of the most incredible actors of our time, losing it to someone who isn’t alive to enjoy the honor. I just don’t know if I think it’s fair.

What do you think?

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