The Loudmouth Protestant

October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween…Not!

Filed under: culture,life,spirituality — nickisym @ 6:15 pm
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This morning, as I entered the elevator on my way up to my office, a casual friend of mine asked without hesitation, “So, what are you going to be for Halloween?” I laughed and replied, “You presume that I celebrate Halloween.” To which he looked at me quizzically and said, “You don’t, why not?” And there in the elevator in front of him and two other riders I told him in short order that I don’t celebrate it for spiritual and personal reasons. The quizzical look didn’t leave his face. You would have sworn I just  told a child that Santa didn’t exist. I was saved by the bell and released from this awkward situation when the elevator reached my floor. But as I walked up the stairs to my desk I thought to myself, “Has Halloween become so commonplace that everyone is expected to acknowledge it and celebrate it?” Well, apparently so.

I listened to a colleague of mine conducting business with a writer and at the end of her phone call she wished her writer a happy Halloween. A member of upper-level management left for the day and wished me and another colleague a “Happy Halloween”. The people on The View dressed up for Halloween. Even Bill O’Reilly, a guest on The View, dressed up in a very apropos vampire costume for Halloween. Yes, this is the world we live in, where people are okay with celebrating darkness if for only one day–actually make it two–but when it comes to celebrating light and it’s likeness we have to mince our words and/or completely change them. “Happy Holidays”, we say because “Merry Christmas” is imposing a specific set of beliefs on people, but saying “Happy Halloween” is not imposing a set of beliefs and traditions on people? This is the world we live in.

I am not going to knock Halloween. I think I’ve done it in years past and personally I am tired of beating a dead horse. I’d rather talk about the living word and the man who is alive. I don’t really have a particular resolution to this dilemma of a world insistent on being comfortable with a holiday that celebrates darkness, fear, and evil for fun’s sake. So suffice to say I will tell all who are satisfied with what will take place tonight and tomorrow not to get too comfortable in the darkness because all that is done in the darkness shall come to the light. What happens on Hallow’s Eve and on Halloween will not stay in Hallow’s Eve and Halloween–that should be scarier than the number of ghouls, goblins and other sordid creatures that will come alive. You want scary, read the book of Revelation, now that is scary as hell.

So govern yourselves according. I can’t tell you to have a Happy Halloween, nor can I condone it’s celebration, but if you insist, be safe and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. See you in the light.

LMP’s other posts on Halloween:

Happy Ho-lloween

Don’t Be Scared

Halloween Trumps Christmas

 

The Songs We Sing But Don’t Live

Yesterday evening, as my work in the office was coming to a close, I decided to wind down with Kevin LeVar’s cover of the worship song “I’ll Say Yes”. You know the song… “I’ll say yes, Lord yes, to your will and to your way. I’ll say yes, Lord yes, I will trust you and obey.” ((Fill in the rest.)) LeVar’s version of this song is inherently different, for me, in that it is slow enough for you to meditate on the words as you listen. In my moment of meditation, I realized that so often I have sung these words, yet I have failed to really say yes to the Lord’s will and to His way. I have failed to do this partially because sometimes I am not sure of His will and His way, but also because there are parts of my life that I am still trying to control. Oddly enough they are the parts of my life that I actually don’t want to control, but by force of habit, they are still under my control.

There I was sitting at my desk thinking about this song and the fact that thousands, maybe millions of Christians; Protestant and Catholic; Progressive and Liberal, and whatever other branches there are; have sung this song at least once in their life. Or they have sung songs that have similar concepts. The songs that invite us to lay down our burdens, surrender all, enter into His presence and bow down and worship Him, but yet and still it’s hard for us to do those things. It hurt my heart to know that I know all of the words to “I’ll Say Yes” and I can sing it clearly, but I haven’t said yes to everything. And then I remembered the words of a woman whom I now consider my spiritual mentor.

Just one week ago we had a discussion about discernment and some decision-making I have ahead of me. But as she heard me talk about the reasoning behind making these decisions, she pointed out to me that I was being ruled by logic and practicality, when God, and trusting in His plan for my life, is neither logical or practical. So she mentioned the classic hymn, “I Surrender All”. She talked about how I must have known the song since I was a child, because all Christians do. She mentioned how we know how to sing it so passionately, with our hands uplifted and our eyes closed, but nothing of ourselves is lifted to be that surrendered.  But then she remarked that we must pray to God to know our own willingness to surrender to Him. She said that the days of singing that song are over because it is clear that there are very few people who sing it and live it. But there are many people who sing it and have the desire to surrender all, but they don’t have the capacity to do so. To this she said we must pray and ask God to take that desire and give us the capacity to be willing to surrender. She said that it’s ok if you are not there yet–meaning not fully there with “I Surrender All”. God knows. But what He also wants to know is when you have surrendered to the concept of surrendering to Him. And right there, she gave me my prayer as she said, “Be ready to be ready. Be willing to be willing. Surrender to the concept of surrendering.” And that is now my prayer as often as I can remember to say it,

“Lord, I AM ready to be ready for you. I am willing to be willing to do what you want me to do. And I surrender myself to the concept of surrendering to you. Make this all real to me and not just a song to sing. Make these words real in my life. Make them real in the life of every person who I know who may have sung them without meaning, without understanding and without the true intention of saying yes to you or surrendering all to you. We don’t want to just sing the songs and not live it out in our lives. We want to sing the song, proclaim the message and show it by the lives we live. Give us the capacity to say yes to you always and to the courage to surrender to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

 

October 27, 2009

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Yesterday evening, before I retired to my bed, I heard, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. It is a hymn that I am all too familiar with and yet last night I felt like I was hearing it with new ears. The refrain, “All I have needed thy hands have provided” kept running through my mind. As I was getting ready for bed, I couldn’t help but to think of how true that is and yet I know I walk around acting like I think God could give me so much more. I ask God day after day for the things I think I so desperately need and then I throw up my hands when I feel he hasn’t delivered. Or maybe I just keep on asking without realizing that God’s silence on a matter is an answer within itself. You’ve heard it before, “His delay is not a denial.”

But really, all I have needed his hands have provided. Morning by morning new mercies I see at His hands when He allows me to wake up and see with my two eyes of relatively good vision a new day He has created. He allows me to step down from my high bed and touch the wooden floor beneath me and then to walk around my bedroom through my living room and to the kitchen to fix the food that His hands have provided. From there He gives me enough consciousness to read the word His hands have provided and to speak to Him in prayer with the voice his hands has provided. Thereafter I am vested with enough strength to get ready and clothed for the day ahead of me His hands has provided. He protects me from dangers seen and unseen as I head to the job His hands have provided. His hands have provided me my work, no one else’s. And in thinking about it, my cause for complaint is–or should be–squelched because I am working unto Him. He blesses me with amazing colleagues. Amazing family and friends in life and an amazing life in general. All I have needed at this point in time in my life, His hands have provided. I have and should have no cause for complaint. How fortunate am I that He just keeps on providing my every need according to His riches in glory. How fortunate am I to live in–or aspire to live–in a state of mind that if God does nothing else for me, I will know that He has been good to me to me always. All I have needed His hands have provided. Great is thy faithfulness toward me.

October 22, 2009

Tracy Morgan’s Words of Wisdom

Filed under: books,celebrities,entertainment — nickisym @ 10:45 pm
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This evening I had the opportunity to attend Barnes & Noble’s author discussion featuring comedian, actor, and newly-minted writer–of the book “I Am the New Black”, Tracy Morgan. I was shocked to find that the majority of the people in the room were white instead of what I thought would be a room full of minorities–black, Hispanic and others. That wasn’t to be my only surprise.

When Tracy walked into the room, he ruled against standing at the speaker’s podium and instead asked if he could sit down at the table usually just reserved for signing books. Once he was seated, he unleashed a side of himself unknown to many. It was the softer, sensitive, more serious side of Tracy. He bared his soul before a crowd of strangers, but he did this in Tracy Morgan fashion. His catharsis was peppered with humor so that we’d never fall too deeply into the pain he felt. For the few of us who dared to imagine his pain, we went all the way in with him. We laughed when he laughed, some may have cried when he cried, we nodded in affirmation, clapped our hands when he shared his lessons learned and just journeyed with him from his cocoon to the birth of a beautiful black butterfly. Having been so fortunate to be in the midst of this movement, I wanted to share some of his words of wisdom from the night. Keep in mind that wisdom, under the Tracy Morgan umbrella, is still meant to make you laugh. It initially made me laugh and then made me say, “Hmm…”

“This book is 198 pages, I’m a 40-year-old black man, do you think 200 pages is enough to tell my story?”

“Every Jewish man has to love one black man (he actually said motherf-er instead of man) in his lifetime. I’m glad that Lorne Michael’s chose me.”

“I love to watch the 10 Commandments because Chuckie Heston is my biological father.”

“As long as you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.” –His last statement to a struggling comedian.

“You forgive whoever you aren’t on speaking terms with for you, not for them. It’s so you can move on.” –Following talking about forgiving his father for being absent.

“The two greatest words in comedy are Richard Pryor.” –In response to who his favorite comedian is.

Now, go ahead and buy the book, “I Am the New Black” by Tracy Morgan or, if you want something a little more experiential, get the audiobook.

October 21, 2009

Where I Have Been

Filed under: God,life,music — nickisym @ 6:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

This past weekend I had the chance to see about my future. It is nothing that I can go into depth about right now because it is quite early in the process. But, I wanted to share with you two songs that came right on time for me during my trip. I hope that they will speak to you in one way or another.

October 15, 2009

A Post from My Phone

Filed under: randomness — nickisym @ 1:47 pm
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This is me posting from my Blackberry. I just want to see if it really works.

Living this Day Just to Hear Two Words

This morning as I was riding the train to work I was listening to one of my favorite songs by gospel artist Tye Tribbett. The song is entitled, “Well Done” and it is about living a life just to hear God say “Well Done.” Tribbett repeatedly says he wants to live his whole life just to hear two words, “Well Done.”

I meditated on that for a while and thought about the implications of living such a life. It is my hope to live such a life and I want to live such a life that will result in God telling me, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  But how can I focus on living a life to hear those two words when I know tomorrow’s not promised? Therefore, all I can control, in terms of living the “Well Done” life, is living a “Well Done” day.  

Days are all I have even when I know that tomorrow is not promised. But as long as God gives me the breath of life for yet one more day, I promise myself to live it for Him and live it like at the end of the day I know He is going to tally up my every thought, word, and deed and say, “Well Done” or “You Could Have Done Better.” This brings to mind a quote that I often hear people say and refer to as one of their favorites, “Live each day as if it were your last.” Well, today could be your last day, so while you are living life to the fullest, remember that at the end of the day, your every action, those seen and unseen, will all be accounted for by God. Live this day just to hear two words, “Well Done”.

October 14, 2009

Quote of the Day: Joyce Meyer

“You’ll never get what you want if you can’t be happy for someone else who gets it.” Joyce Meyer on Spiritual Maturity

This was what I walked away with halfway into listening to Joyce Meyer’s sermon on Spiritual Maturity. No sooner than I stepped out of my house and landed on the train platform, did I have the chance to apply my learning.

You see, I live in a neighborhood full of young professionals and with that comes a handful of good-looking young professional men. But, since I am shy and still follow my parents edict never to talk to strangers–unless somehow I feel really compelled and/or had some liquid courage–I never talk to any of these good-looking young professional men. They just keep passing me by. Anyways, this morning, I saw my neighborhood crush standing there in all his autumnal glory. He has an affinity for earth tones and today he really went in with his different shades of brown including a newsboy cap–got to love a man in a hat.

I stood there admiring him from the moment I stepped onto the platform, to riding the train to the next stop, getting off and trailing him to the next train–I wasn’t stalking him, we really do ride the same set of trains–and then the music stopped. A young lady who I also see frequently approached him as we he was walking down the stairs and said, “Hey, you were the one I saw down on Wall Street yesterday, right?” He said, “No.” She said, “Oh”. And from there she continued to run her mouth. With each step of my trailing this new subway connection I became discouraged. I thought to myself, “That was so easy, why didn’t you think of that?” Well, I never thought to make such a move because it would have been disingenuous as I have never seen him anywhere but my neighborhood. Anyways, Chatty Cathy kept talking to him and didn’t let up and even as we approached the trains that would take us to our real destination she said, “Oh, which train are you taking?” She proceeded to walk with him in the direction of his point and kept talking.

I don’t know what will end up happening with Chatty Cathy and Earth Tones. He might have been overwhelmed by her chattiness or turned on by her assertiveness. Either way she put her foot in the game. She did more than I ever did and I’ve been watching this guy for like a year now like Alicia Keys watched Mos Def at the coffee shop in “You Don’t Know My Name” or maybe how she watched Swizz until Mashonda stepped away.

Moral of the story is, that young lady went for hers and hers was something I would have liked to have but slept on. So, I have no choice but to celebrate her win and be happy for her because one day I hope to have or a least grasp something similar. At the end of the day, I must be happy for what she got because it is something that I want one day too. Here’s to being happy for other people’s successes. Who will you be happy for today?

October 9, 2009

Understanding Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize Win

When I woke up this morning and heard about Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize my first reaction was not a shout for joy. It wasn’t a cursing the high heavens either. My reaction was one of  indifference. I told my roommate and then I went on about my business getting ready for the day ahead. I got to work late and everyone was sitting around the conference room table talking about how we would cover it. I still wasn’t excited. Finally, I got to my desk and logged onto CNN where I read about how it all went down and there were some curious facts which made eyebrows raise:

The nomination process ended on Feb.1, 12 days after he took office and the committee began to solicit nominations in September 2008, 2 months before he was elected.

Having read that and others thoughts on Obama’s premature receipt of the award, I was feeling a bit weary about it all. I thought he received the award prematurely not knowing exactly what he did beyond inspire a nation to get it. Sure he lights up a room with his smile, shifts the nation and world at large with his mere presence, is brilliant and gives some great speeches, but why? Yes, foreign leaders love him, but they do so to their benefit, not his or ours. Why? So many questions swirling around in my mind for why he should get the award this soon. I should be clear that I am not not proud of him, I am. I am an African-American woman who is only now seeing my reflection in the landscape of America through the presence of Obama and his family.  But I still couldn’t wrap my mind around why he should get the award for his efforts and not his accomplishments. And then the moment of revelation came through some friends. I will not seek to transpose their words, I will just share them straightaway because that is how powerful they are.

“You know…I honestly think that the way the decision was made is nothing short of the glory of God on this one. You know He likes to use people that everyone else overlooks, and the way He works, you don’t see it coming, it doesn’t make complete “sense” as to how it happens. It’s just favor, straight up.” (A Friend Whose Name Rhymes with Freon)

“To me the decision to give him the Nobel peace prize is the ultimate act of stepping out on faith. You can debate whether he deserved it, but we all know that he needs it.

Giving the daunting tasks that he has before him in regards to the war in Afghanistan, fighting for healthcare, trying to mend our planet, etc., I feel this is the perfect time for him to be reminded of his greater purpose.

I agree with (redacted) who commented on what he has accomplished. I certainly didn’t think an African American would be elected during my lifetime. Let alone make the entire world stop and listen. I guess I’m wondering how some of you define accomplishment. I still get goose bumps when I think of the images from election night when the entire world celebrated this man’s victory. That is a paradigm shift not just winning a political election. There is nothing irrational about recognizing that.

I believe the committee was wise enough to recognize when a cause needs a burst of momentum. I’m  as proud as I was on election night and when I watched him be sworn into office in January. He continues to be humble even in his speech this afternoon when he said he didn’t believe he deserved to be in the company of the other recipients. But he does. The last man this country got so inspired by was MLK.” A Friend Whose Name Rhymes with McLaren

After reading these two responses I was shaken to the core because I realized I was only trying to understand why Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize with human knowledge. I was only looking horizontally, but when faced with the upward vertical perspective I was changed and convicted. How could I be so harsh about him winning the award when he has shifted the atmosphere of the world and cultivated community simply by running for president. He did affect change before he moved into the White House, I can’t deny that. Did any of us imagine there’d be a day when millions of people from all walks of life, all religions, spiritual backgrounds and races would come together to campaign for one black man to be president? That is only the kind of unification that can be crafted by an incredible God. And I did give honor to God for placing Obama in the White House when he was elected president back in November 2008. I don’t think it was all about a vote. It was all about the sovereignty of God and His desire to prove to the world just how awesome He is.

So, here we are again at another crossroads where we can either argue for days on in about whether Obama is worthy of the award. Whether he deserves it—which, if you let him tell it, he doesn’t.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter if we think we deserves it, it is already done. But what those who would—pointing the biggest, longest finger at myself—should acknowledge is that this is all God and no one else. That was my problem all along trying to find a human justification for it. But there can be none since we are so weak and so flawed. It is God. So I leave you with these last words on the matter as written by my partner in prayer blogging, Mark Herringshaw,

“My point is not to comment pro or con on worthiness. I’m suggesting that any recognition of any human agent of peace should be wrapped in a prayerful recognition that Jesus alone is the “Prince of Peace” and peace as a real human condition can ONLY come from him…”

October 8, 2009

Admitting My Deficit

Filed under: God,life,work — nickisym @ 6:01 pm
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As of September I was ushered into a whole new world. A world with new horizons to be seen, but those new horizons and their view are costing me a whole lot more. High rent, it’s just a face of life for New Yorkers who barely eke out a living—assistants, journalists and anyone with a job that actually adds values to people’s lives. I have managed to not live in this whole new world for six happy years but now, I am a slave to higher rent. The exception to this is that what I get is actually worth what I pay for it, so I’m actually not complaining. This new world I live in is forcing me to be a little more disciplined with my spending—at least I am trying to be disciplined. Not as much eating out as a like. Not as many pretty dress acquisitions. It has even changed my perspective on going out on dates. I used to want a date to enjoy the company of another and now I want a date so that someone else, besides me, can foot the bill. (I bet fellow blogger, Jozen, would love to hear me say that considering I’ve been roasting him over the coals all week.) Anyways, times are a bit lean for me and I went into this whole new world knowing it would be. I also accepted paying higher rent as a test from God to see if I could become a disciplined steward over the resources he has given me. I will tell you now, as a steward, I completely suck–but I’m hoping to get better.

So today, the result of my whole new world and the tax bracket it placed me in came full circle when I had to concede defeat not once, but twice. You should know that I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to say no particularly when it comes to money. I like to think “Money Ain’t a Thang.” But today, money was a thang and the Ferrari or Jaguar didn’t switch four lanes because it broke down and I have laryngitis so screamin’ money ain’t a thang just ain’t an option.

Situation#1: Last Thursday we got the directive from leadership in the dance ministry that we are to wear grey tops and black bottoms to rehearsal. Here I am faced with the prospect of needing like 5-10 of each when I only really have 3 pairs of black rehearsal pants and 5 grey shirts in varying colors of grey. This was an unfortunate finding on my part. Last night as I was getting my clothes ready for rehearsal I realized all of my black bottoms are dirty and it isn’t an option to pull them out of the dirty clothes bag because they could actually smell since our rehearsals are intense. The morning comes around and I was presented with an opportunity to e-mail a member of leadership concerning something unrelated to clothes and being the kind of girl I am, I killed two birds with one stone, did what I was supposed to do and made an addendum to the memo where I let her know I would be showing up to rehearsal with a grey on grey outfit because I have no other recourse. I don’t have a washer/dryer in my deluxe apartment in the sky. I don’t have time to do laundry considering I work all day and then turn around to either work for myself, am in said dance rehearsal or doing something with other members of civilization. Of course, I mentioned that it isn’t fiscally responsible for me to buy new clothes when I’ve accumulated all the Large and Extra Large tops I can tolerate specifically for the ministry. I got no response on my grey on grey apparel, but we’ll see what happens tonight.

Situation #2: There’s a conference that I was asked to attend for work but said conference would require me to pay the reservation fee out of my surplus of which, at the moment, I don’t have because I had to give that over to the keeper of the land. So, in front of my boss and another colleague, when asked whether it would be ok to pay for it myself, I unashamedly said, “No, actually it’s not. I can’t afford to because I just paid my rent.” Sure, I felt a little embarrassed and humbled, but I did what I had to do. My boss went away to see if he could make some other way and it turns out that he could and I will not have to dig into non-existent coffers to gain knowledge for the company. Thank God.

So I share all of this to say that there is nothing wrong with admitting deficit in any area of your life. The admission of deficit could actually lead to your surplus. It’s all about being honest with yourself and others. Scripture says, “You have not because you ask not or you ask amiss.” Well, from now on, I will be asking because not having is a totally downer.

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