The Loudmouth Protestant

April 27, 2009

The Swine Flu Prayer

Most merciful and gracious heavenly father I pray that your people, who are called by your name, would humble themselves so that you will heal the land. We have an epidemic before us, and many are fearful but we know that if we pray and believe, we can cast mountains into the sea, so I pray for the mountain of fear to be cast into the sea.  You have not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. So we cannot fear the spread of the Swine Flu when we invest all of our energy into you, the strength of our life. You said that you want us to prosper and be in good health and I claim this for myself and all of your children. But I also pray that all would exercise knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as they navigate through this. For those living in areas where there is a high concentration of affected people–Mexico, Fresh Meadow, Queens, close up orifice that can be a gateway for the virus, strengthen immune systems, breathe health and purity into their bodies. Into all of our bodies. Give us knowledge and wisdom to take the practical measures to protect themselves. For those who have been infected with the virus be Jehovah Rophe, the God who heals. Speak into their lives. Breathe into their lives. Provide the affected with the best medical care available. Bless the doctors and nurses, who are having to deal with this onslaught of patients, with patience. Comfort the families who have experienced loss at the hands of this disease. And most of all, I pray that people would put their trust in you and you alone. You are the only one who can get us through this. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

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April 23, 2009

“The God In Me”= Prosperity?

Filed under: christianity,God,gospel music — nickisym @ 10:50 am
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I am not going to lie, when I first heard Mary Mary’s “God In Me” I loved it. It was one of my favorite songs from their latest album “The Sound.” It stayed in constant rotation for about a month. But it wasn’t in heavy rotation because I thought it was profound, not at all. It was more so because the song made me feel good.  It has a catchy beat attached to words that are innocent enough so I could feel free to jam on it rather than “Blame It On the Alcohol.” It seemed innocent enough. But with the release of the single on the airwaves and the video, my feelings have changed.

You see, upon the umpteenth listen, I realized that the song, while expertly produced for the ears of the Christian who isn’t sold on a traditional gospel or CCM sound, contains lyrics that could be misconstrued as prosperity gospel. At first I thought I was reaching by drawing such a conclusion,  but upon closer inspection of the song, I find that what Mary Mary claims as the “God in Me” could be confused as preaching a prosperity gospel.  (more…)

April 22, 2009

Thomas of Aquinas on Prayer

Since the beginning of this week I have been thinking about prayer and how we are to confront it knowing that our prayers don’t change God’s mind. As is always the case when something like this arises, I have searched His word and spoken to trusted friends on the matter. But as is always the case in my quest for knowledge of God, sometimes the best gems of wisdom come when you aren’t looking for them. Hence my experience this morning.

In my quiet time, I switched my order around and decided to read “Longing for God” by Gayle Beebe and Richard Foster. The book’s aim is to introduce Christians to people from the past who had intimate relationships with God and as a result of that relationship, produced works that have built the foundation for spiritual formation–in the literary sense–in the lives of Christians–well some of them considering most people don’t read Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Aquinas, Blaise Pascal and others for fun (I do!).

Nevetheless, the chapter I was finishing up was about Thomas Aquinas’ great work Summa Theologica and the section of the book on prayer and devotion. He offered the mistakes that he believed defeat the work of prayer–believing the world operates independently of God, believing everything is fixed and believing that God changes His mind. Eureka!

Beebe and Foster would then go on to offer their commentary on Aquinas view of prayer by stating the following:

“Through prayer we work to sort out what role we will play as secondary agents in God’s primary purposes. Prayer is not telling God what we think, or simply thanking him for food and drink. Rather it is our active, intentional effort to understand what God is doing and how we can join him. Thus through prayer we become co-participators with God. God’s will sets everything in motion.”

That was great, but yet and still I wanted more. So I decided to scour the Internet in search of a free online version of Summa Theologica so I could read exactly what Aquinas wrote. Alas, the version I did find was much too clunky. It seemed my search was going to be in vain until I returned to the origin of this entire thought process, the post that started it all. There in the post, the first comment was a Thomas Aquinas quote addressing man’s stance in prayer:

“We do not pray to change divine decree, but only to obtain what God has decided will be obtained through prayer.”

– St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae

To come full circle knowing that God is the one that closed the gap and gave Aquinas–and me–the knowledge of Him to acknowledge that we are to look to Him for all of our understanding.

April 21, 2009

Prayer Doesn’t Change God’s Mind

Yesterday I happened upon a post by Beliefnet.com EIC Steven Waldman entitled “Your Prayers Will Not Change God’s Mind.” The post  brings to light the thought that our prayers don’t change God’s mind since God is timeless. This coming from the mouth of esteemed Oxford professor Keith Ward–and he isn’t the first person to posit this.

So what is this walk with Christ if not a series of questions that we must ask ourselves? I had to ask myself if I ever realized this or did I really think that my prayers were changing God’s mind? Put in the proper perspective, it makes logical sense that our prayers don’t change God’s mind because when one thinks deeply about–and you don’t even have to go deep if you know the word, it’s clear that our prayers couldn’t possibly change God’s mind. How is that possible?

Well first off, God is a supreme being. He’s omnipresent and omnipotent. He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb. He knows every hair on our head. He knows the plans He has for us. He sent his only begotten son to die for our sins. He called us to a life in Christ before we even knew what it was. He makes all things work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He knows we’ll make many plans but His plan prevails. His own son prayed for the cup of suffering to be removed, but nevertheless His will be done. I didn’t make any of this up, it’s all in His book. Given all of that, why would our praying change His mind? It would take away his providence and power if mere humans could shift the outcome of a situation through prayer.

What about free will? Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you live by free will, you most likely aren’t living a surrendered life. Free will means you are free to choose the outcome according to your–limited–understanding of a situation. One who lives according to free will might pray, but they’ll get up from their knees and decide what choice they want to make. Or maybe they won’t pray because they figure they can solve it on their own. Touchy…

And if our prayers can’t change God’s mind, where does that leave intercessory prayer? Is it impossible to engage in intercessory prayer if you believe your prayers will not change God’s mind? So if that’s the case, praying for the sick won’t make a difference because their livng or dying is not going to change because you pray but because it is God’s will.

Where does that put the old church mothers who kept telling us that prayer changes things? Because given this, prayer changes nothing, God changes things. And if anything, if we are to be so confident–and we should be–God changes us through prayers to align us with His will, not our own.

And lastly–or maybe not lastly, but I’m exhausted from the confluence of thoughts, “Where does that put prayer?” I mean, for me, it changes the manner of prayer. Not that I spend an exorbitant amount of time petitioning God for things, but it makes me feel that my only prayer to God should be, “You know what is before me, you know what I’d prefer to happen, but nevertheless, not my will but yours be done, I trust you, I surrender it all to you, do you God, In Jesus’ name,  Amen.”

Heavy stuff…I feel little out of sorts…

April 15, 2009

Quote of the Day: Lecrae

Filed under: christianity,God,music — nickisym @ 12:19 pm
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I’m still on my gospel hip-hop tip, particularly at this very moment because some “other” music was trying to get me caught up so I am buffetting it with gospel hip-hop, CCM, gospel and music that speaks God’s truth. Nevertheless, I’m listening to Lecrae again and one verse in his song “Send Me” stuck out.

“America ain’t Christians they just practicing the ritual.”

Lecrae “Send Me”

Usually I’d have a whole essay lined up for a statement like this, but I this time around, I’d rather let people draw their own conclusion.

April 12, 2009

Happy Resurrection Sunday

Filed under: christianity,christians,God,Jesus — nickisym @ 12:23 am
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Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Not Easter bunnies, not Peeps, not candy, not hard-boiled Paas-dyed eggs,  not frilly Easter dresses, not even Easter, but Resurrection Sunday. (Side note: “Easter”, the term we’ve become entirely too comfortable with, is connected to the Anglo-Saxon pagan goddess Eostre and has it’s origin in pre-Christian pagan practice. So let’s call tomorrow what it actually is, Resurrection Sunday. None shall be confused then.) The day when the stone covering His tomb was rolled back and He appeared with countenance like lightening and a raiment that was as white as snow. His resurrection signifies new life. Many of us have been fasting for the last 40+ days and while we are excited to break the fast later on today, we should not go back to those things which had us in bondage prior to going in. 

We fast for change, to make God a stronghold, and to receive revelation and breakthrough. The last 40+ days were not for form or fashion. Not to show people how pious we could be but for us to make God and His business top priority. We should not go back to business as usual tomorrow. Tomorrow is not a license to fall back into the same pattern that had us enslaved before. No! The point of the resurrection was to give us a second chance to get it right the first time. And we should be excited for this opportunity and thankful that it is through God that we could welcome such a great gift that has given us access to life and life more abundantly.

I’m truly excited for this day. Excited to give thanks unto God for His greatest sacrifice. The sacrifice which atoned for my sins and made me righteous. I am so very thankful to God that today, symbolically, He has given me new life. 

I pray that you and yours will have a blessed Resurrection Sunday and forget not the most awesome gift you have ever received. 

Thank you God for your most precious son. You are so awesome.

April 8, 2009

Don’t Cancel “The Game” Petition

Filed under: entertainment — nickisym @ 10:27 pm
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The wheels are getting squeaky and methinks that CW will get the point this time around. Thanks to Erie for providing this petition link. Please sign the petition to stop “The Game” from getting cancelled

Also thanks to Loyalfan, you can e-mail CW at feedback@CWTV.com with “Don’t Cancel The Game” in the subject line. 

Let’s let our voices be heard on the matter.

My thoughts on CW wanting to cancel “The Game”

Your Role in the Crucifixion

Last night an interesting question was posed,  “If you were there during the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, what role would you have played?” Would you have been Judas, Peter, Pilate, Barrabas, Sanhedrin, Roman soldier, Simon of Cyrene, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the theif who scoffed at Jesus or the one who asked to be remembered? Those present  for the crucifixion of Jesus  are uncanny archetypes of us now.

We were there to fake the funk and sell him out for some spare change, there to judge rather than stand up for what we believed in our hearts and let him die, there to be set free when we know we didn’t deserve it, there to participate in the mocking and beating, there to carry the cross, there to sit at the cross, there to simply wait for his return.

Last night, my mind spun as I thought about who I would be then. I saw myself as Pilate, there to judge, but inevitably give Him up because the press of the crowd was overwhelming. I saw myself as Simon of Cyrene, a mere bystander who happened to be in the right place at the right time to help a righteous man finish an assignment that would atone for my sins, I saw myself as Barrabbas, wild and wooly and set free despite my past indiscretions. I could have been any of those people.

Who are you?

Quote of the Day: Adam Goldberg

Filed under: entertainment,randomness — nickisym @ 11:04 am
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Borrowing a page from one of my new favorite blogs, CocoaChanel, I’ve decided to establish a quote of the day. It’s a happy medium for moments when I will not have time to wax poetic here, but I still want you to know I exist in some shape and form on the Internets. Today’s quote comes from neurotic actor, Adam Goldberg.

Many people remember him from “Dazed and Confused”, “Saving Private Ryan” and for those who have HBO, “Entourage.” But he will forever be in my memory because of his role in one of my favorite movies “Higher Learning” as the roommate of skinhead convert Remy.

In an interview featured on The Daily Beast, the reclusive–not for spiritual reasons, Goldberg talks about life on the set of the ABC police drama, “The Unusuals”, life outside of that which consists of gathering info via restaurant menus slipped under the door of his Brooklyn apartment–I know the feeling all too well, and why he’ll never be a twit use Twitter. The latter is my quote for the day because I love to know that there are other Twitter skeptics in the world. 

 

“It’s this desperate need to be heard, and this desperate need by others to live vicariously though people who desperately need to be heard. It’s the marriage of full-tilt narcissism and full-tilt voyeurism that has finally collided in 140 words.”

Read the complete Daily Beast interview with Adam Goldberg.

Jesus Christ Runs This Man!

Filed under: music,video — nickisym @ 12:14 am
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In a world where it’s so easy to get caught up in the greed of “A Millie”, the notion of “Live Your Life” and bad behavior because you “Blame It on the Alcohol” it’s good to just turn something on and ride out for the glory of God. I’m just discovering the bounty of gospel hip-hop and I am loving what I hear. Here’s an artist, who I’d only heard about in passing and today, via Pandora, was able to hear more than an earful of his work. I’m lovin’ it. A disc I’ll be copping for sure:

Lecrae, Who the King?

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