The Loudmouth Protestant

November 27, 2009

Treasured Moments

Filed under: family,life — nickisym @ 12:26 am
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I meant to write this yesterday but the words weren’t flowing the way they needed to be. But here I am in the midst of my family, sitting here watching everyone and thinking that though we are all our own special brands of crazy, like bats out of hell, it is heaven to be able to share that and work it out together. I don’t get to spend time with my family often, but it’s moments like these that I treasure.

I treasure the moments of gleaning wisdom from the elders in the family and listening to their tales of growing up in Jamaica. I treasure the moments of laughing with my cousins about the long-winded stories of the elders. I treasure the moments of watching the domino experts play the night away until they reach six love. I treasure the moments of having a good home-cooked meal. I treasure the moments of just watching family be family. We aren’t perfect and we may not get it right until long after many of us are gone, but all we have is each other. And, although I wish I had more time to spend with them so that we could grow in love, together. I will not focus on what I don’t have at the moment and be grateful for what I do have, this moment.

November 12, 2009

Celebrity Counsel: Carrie Prejean Edition

coun⋅sel[koun-suhl] noun, plural -sel for 3, verb, -seled, -sel⋅ing or (especially British) -selled, -sel⋅ling.

Theological definition: One of the advisory declarations of Christ, considered by some Christians as not universally binding but as given for aid in attaining moral perfection.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009

Loudmouth Protestant’s “Celebrity counsel” definition: Free celebrity advice with a spiritual bent to help keep said celebrity from lawsuits, the courthouse,  the jailhouse and the poor house.

Today’s Star Witness: Carrie Prejean

Last night Carrie Prejean appeared on Larry King to talk about her new book and dodge questions about her current thoughts on gay marriage and the settlement of her Miss USA case. During her night with the King she managed to tell him he was being inappropriate and attempted to run off the set when someone asked her about her views on gay marriage. So my first piece of celebrity counsel of Ms. Prejean is the following,

“Don’t go onto hardball journalism shows if you aren’t ready to play hardball. If you want to keep it safe than go to daytime television. Go to “The View”–ok, I take that back because a tribal counsel of women will throw several hardballs at once several times in one hour.”

Everyone knows Larry King. He is historic and his tenure suggests that he can ask you any question he pleases even if there was an agreement made with your publicist beforehand. Larry King trumps your publicist because not only does he make more than your publicist and he eats publicists for dinner, but he is the one that ensures that your publicist and you get paid because he helps you fulfill your contractual obligation to stay in the media spotlight even when you are irrelevant and not willing to answer simple questions because you have put your foot in your mouth on too many times. (Yeah that was a mouthful.)

But it’s not only this offense that I render counsel to Prejean for. A dear friend of mine, the inspiration for this new series on LMP, and author of the forthcoming book, “Save the Assistants“, Lilit Marcus sent me the link to an interview Carrie Prejean did with Christianity Today. They asked her a number of questions to which she had quasi-intelligent responses, but one question gave me pause.

CT: You wrote that you don’t regret getting breast implants. Have you ever wondered whether it might be incompatible with your Christian faith?

CP: No, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting breast implants as a Christian. I think it’s a personal decision. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn’t get breast implants.

Wrong, wrong, wrong Carrie! I mean, in one respect you are right. God didn’t talk about breast implants in the Bible. How could He? He hadn’t created it yet, although He knew very well that He was going to be the inspiration that would be behind the invention of silicone and the other chemicals they put in the little plastic baggies that are then inserted into women via deep incisions into their pre-existing conditions breasts. But then His creation went from something that was meant for good to something meant for evil in the site of vain men and women hoping to upgrade their already fearfully and wonderfully made bodies.

So Carrie, how do you justify getting breast implants when He is the one who put you together in your mother’s womb and predestined you for the greatness you seem determined to bungle by the misuse of your words and His. I am pretty certain that you were a woman who was fearfully and wonderfully made before the pageant committee and you, decided on the breast implants. I am actually pretty certain that you are still a woman who is fearfully and wonderfully made in the eyes of God. And that’s why I offer this second bit of counsel:

“Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

Yes, I know, those were the Lord’s words to Joshua following the death of Moses. God was telling Joshua that he must cleave to the book of the law in order for him to be fully vested in His power and the courage that he needed to lead the people of Israel into the land God promised them. What I am suggesting here is a contemporary intepretation of that verse specifically for Carrie Prejean. I confess, I know nothing of her biblical knowledge, but what I do know is that if one claims Christianity and a knowledge of the Bible and they are in the public eye, it is necessary to know your word and know it well so that you don’t decieve anyone through your ignorance. It may be accurate that the Bible doesn’t talk about breast implants, but the Bible also doesn’t say selling drugs is wrong and it is! It’s not so much about the specificity of a matter as it is about the principles that God has set forth.  There are guidelines about how we should treat out bodies because, after all, they are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Knowing your body is the temple, would you permit foreign substances to enter it and alter it in a way that God didn’t intend?

We have to be so careful about the words that come of our mouthes especially when we are claiming to be followers of Christ. There are people waiting to pounce on us when they realize we are ignorant about the faith we profess. So my suggestion to Carrie Prejean and to everyone, myself included, is to not let the book of the law depart from your mouth until you know it for real.

Now I’ve made this inaugural post of celebrity counsel long enough, but I just have one more bit of counsel for Carrie Prejean and every other aspiring celebrity author who hasn’t even hit 30. As you may well know, she released a book entitled “Still Standing: The Untold Story of My Fight Against Gossip, Hate, and Political Attacks”. This is part of the reason for her revival on our televisions, papers, magazines, blogs, and other mediums. Let it be known that I am a book lover, not a hater, but I do have a serious problem with the fact that anyone can cut a book deal and get a check nowadays without putting in the serious time to hone their writing craft or live a life worth writing about. This is not to say that Carrie Prejean’s life is not worth writing about, but I suspect that she hasn’t even seen anything yet for she is still very young and has a whole lot of living to do. I fear that her and people like her make themselves to be miniature idols who people worship for no good reason. So to this I offer my last bit of celebrity counsel:

“Don’t write a book until you are certain the life you have lived thus far is a life that is well worth writing and reading about while you are still living and not just because you are famous for being famous and making mistakes.”

Carrie, you have yet more living to do before you can write a book called “Still Standing.” The book detailing the life and times of Jesus wasn’t fully composed and bound until well after He left this earth. And even then, there are always addendums to the story. I know you have so much more ahead of you and that’s the only reason I don’t want the book because I don’t want to read about someone whose true story is yet complete. I’m not saying that books should only be written about the deceased. I am saying the ink hasn’t dried on your story yet, so it’s too early to put it down, bind it and sell it. The best is yet to come for you and I don’t want you to sell yourself short just because someone said they could give you a whole lot of money for writing about your incomplete life. Don’t sell yourself that short.

November 6, 2009

Quote of the Day: Trey Songz’s “Invented Sex”

Filed under: entertainment,God,music — nickisym @ 9:00 am
Tags: ,

Yesterday, the Internet was abuzz about Trey Songz’s latest video “Invented Sex”. I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about so I attempted to watch the video at work. But something told me to ask a trusted friend, who I know had seen it, if it was safe for work, to which he replied, “GOOD LORD NOOOOOOOO!!!” I took his advice and didn’t dare watch it at work, but I did listen to the song instead. Big mistake, HUGE MISTAKE.

Not too long into my listening did I hear this,

“I’ve got a confession. I know we’re ’bout to sin, but your body is a blessing. Father forgive me.”

Yeah, he really said that. I don’t know how many people know he said that, but he did. I wonder how many Christians who have heard this song are aware of the fact that he said that? And how many of them just laughed it off as a clever use of words? And if you laughed it off and are still playing it, why? Seriously, why? There is nothing clever about it and we shouldn’t be laughing. We should be up in arms about it. He is explicitly mocking God. And I know someone is going to say, “It’s not that serious.” Well, if you think it’s not that serious, you must think God and committing sin is a joke. I’m not laughing and I’m fully ready for people to lambast me, but I’d rather be persecuted for standing up for God than sitting down for b.s.

I can go on for days about this because I am passionate about music all the while acknowledging that it has definitely been a stronghold in my life. But inasmuch as it is possible I will call a spade a spade and point out that which is not edifying to the body, and this is not edifying to the body. If you beg to differ, let me know. I’m always up for a spirited debate.

November 3, 2009

My Spiritual Learning in Spinning

Filed under: God,life,spirituality — nickisym @ 5:56 pm
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Last night I took a spinning class for the first time. If you are unfamiliar with spinning the quick description is that it is a low-impact cardio class that takes place on a stationary bike where you do intervals between the easy, moderate and hard tensions on the bike in either the sitting or standing position. I don’t know why I was so determined to go last night, particularly after hearing from a few people that the spinning is way intense and I would be drowning in a pool of my own sweat, but I didn’t care, I was up for the challenge. After all, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, right? Right.

I entered the class early and searched for a bike that was hidden so that my novice status wouldn’t be given away immediately. I found a bike in the corner and started to make the necessary adjustments when I realized I wasn’t sure what to adjust and why. Luckily the instructor caught wind of my status and she quickly came over and explained how I should adjust the seat to my hip bone, the handle bars so that I’m not too stretched out–for a beginner, strapped me into the pedals on the bike and told me about how the class would go. She told me that since it was my first time I should just take this class and the next three just to get comfortable. She then left me to my own devices and pumped up the volume so that class could begin.

Class started with only five people, so I had no time to get intimidated by a bunch of “go hard or go home” freaks. We started off easy enough as she let us pedal at a normal speed with the tension on the bike nearly non-existent. But soon she asked us to turn the tension up to moderate to do our first stand-up ride for 30 seconds. “This should be ok,” I thought to myself. WRONG! Actually I made it for 20 seconds before my legs started burning and I relented under the pain and sat down.

Class went on like this for 45 minutes. Stand up 30 seconds, sit down for 3 minutes, stand up for 3 minutes, sit down for 30 seconds, adjust the tension to moderate, ease the tension, climb uphill, feel the beat, sprint, pump it, feel your heart beat outside of your chest, let the sweat drown you…The whole time, I thought I would die. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, I never thought I was going to die, but if you saw the look on my face, you would have thought I thought I was going to die. But I did realize the thing about spinning is it is not so much a test of your physical strength as it is a test of your endurance. The whole time I kept thinking, “Don’t give up. You can make it. Just hold on.” Most of the class I was saying these things under my breath and even thinking about the scriptural conglomeration between Ecclesiastes 9:11 and Matthew 24:13, “The race is not given to the swift, nor to to the strong, but to the one who endures to the end.” Our walk with Christ is not so different from a spinning class.

We exist between two tensions, the tension of  the world and that of being with God. The tension of the world would represent the easy tension on the bike. In the world we are pedaling fast but not actually going anywhere. But the tension of being with God is the moderate tension where our feet grip the pedals and we have to climb uphill to reach for the mark of the higher calling. And that climb strengthens us. Walking with Christ is not supposed to be easy and there will be alot of opposition, but you have to push through all of that to walk in the light. When we decided that we’d rather walk with Christ than be of the world, we decide to take a walk that will not always be a cake one.

In the moderate tension pedal uphill, we must encourage ourselves. I was on that bike telling myself I could do it, even if it meant I couldn’t always stand when everyone was standing. But it was my ability to speak positive words to myself that I stayed strapped in and on the bike. Truthfully it  hurt being strapped into that bike. My feet were bound by these straps that made sure that when I stood up or when I pedaled fast, I’d never fall off, but isn’t God like that? He is the strap that ensures that no matter how fast we go or what position we take (for Him), we never fall.

Finally there were moments when I was pedaling so fast that I felt out of control, but my saving grace was this emergency stop button the instructor told me about. She said that if ever I need to stop or slow down, all I needed to do was push the button and it would stop the wheel from turning and thus my legs from pedaling. Throughout the 45 minutes of the class I was so thankful for the big red button. Each time I felt out of control, there it was for me to use. And God is there for us everytime we feel like our lives are out of control. He is the big red button we can push to stop spinning and start sitting with Him in peace. For Him, all He wants to know is that we trust Him enough to seek Him in our times of need (and outsides of our times of need.) For Him, He wants us to hide His word in our hearts and use that as fuel to keep going. For Him, all He wants to know is that we desire to endure to the end.

My goal in last night’s spin class was to simply endure through the class and that I did. My goal in my life with God is to simply endure to the end, and that I will do.

November 2, 2009

Missed Connection: Part 2

This morning as I was waiting for the train, I encountered a reminder of a personal fail/lesson. You’ll remember a few weeks ago I mentioned a young man in my neighborhood whom I had a moderate crush on. The particular morning that I saw him and had the personal fail/learned lesson, is the morning another young lady from the neighborhood swooped in and caught his attention. I hadn’t seen either of them since that day, until today.

When I arrived on the train platform, the two of them were standing together. He, still in his autumnal glory, her, still in her talkitiveness, but they were together. The context of their togetherness I know nothing of. But it looked like they arrived at the platform together. So there they were and there I was by myself. Well, not literally by myself. A good friend whom read that same post about Earth Tones was with me and as we approached them I told her that they were the subject of my previous post. She lambasted me, in the nicest way possible, for not putting my foot in the game. She too agreed that he was quite the catch and now, sadly, looks caught.

I made my way to the next train exactly how I did when these two met each other. I was trailing him. But this time around Chatty Cathy fell behind. I had hope for one second that he was trying to lose her to steal a moment away with me, but as we approached the top of the stairs he let the crowd pass and waited for her like a knight in shining armor. There he was at the top of the stairs patiently waiting for her and there I was passing him by. She rejoined him and continued to talk–I feel like he doesn’t talk nearly as much as she does but he seems to like her loquaciousness nonetheless.

So there it is. I don’t have a “moral of the story” for this one. Maybe the moral of the story is continuing to be happy for someone else’s gain as I learned on part one of this trip. If that’s what it is, then I shall be happy for her and for him since if he wasn’t meant for me, even to just meet and greet for one moment in time, and that’s the way God would have it, who am I to argue? Here’s to happiness to the happy couple. Back to the drawing board–which actually does have other sketches that I’ll share in just awhile.

Until then, be blessed.

Sermon Podcasts and the Black Church

Filed under: technology,Uncategorized — nickisym @ 9:33 am
Tags: , ,

In preparation for a fast that my church is having as we look toward Thanksgiving, I decided that I would subscribe to podcasts from pastors across the country who I’ve been interested in hearing. I subscribed to podcasts from Andy Stanley’s Buckhead Church in Atlanta, Georgia; Francis Chan’s Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California; and Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hills in Seattle, Washington. In addition to those sermon podcasts that I subscribed, I already subscribed to John Piper’s Desiring God (Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota) podcast, James McDonald’s Walk in the Word (Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois) and Shaun King’s Courageous Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

Of all of those podcasts that I have accumulated only one of them is from a black man. And though he is black, it pretty much stops there because his church couldn’t be categorized as a black church per se. The oldest preacher in my sermon podcast bunch is John Piper. So it’s not an age thing, but there is a lack of diversity on the sermon podcast scene. I looked up some of the more popular black mega-churches like TD Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas; Bishop Charles Blake of West Angeles in Los Angeles, California; Bishop Noel Jones of City of Refuge in Gardena, California; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth in Atlanta, Georgia and Lee P. Washington of Reid Temple and in Glenn Dale, Maryland and there was not a podcast to be found. This is by no means a comprehensive search, but these are some of the biggest names in Christianity in the black community. From all of this I wondered, “Why don’t more black churches, especially the megachurches, offer podcasts too?” Is it too untraditional, are their communications ministry not up to date with this technology or is it an issue of money since many of these podcasts are free?

It may be dangerous for me to ask this question, especially throwing in the last part about the money. But I can’t act like that wouldn’t be taken into consideration knowing that most of the ministries that do offer podcasts do so free of charge. So maybe the black churches feel the congregants would stop paying for the sermon CD. But, in my belief, the benefit of offering podcasts far outweighs the cost.

Charging people to buy a preached word creates a barrier for entry to those who many not be able to afford but really want it. Although I will also acknowledge that only offering podcast and not CDs for sale also create a barrier of entry for those who still on the other side of the digital divide. But the number of people running around with iPods and access to iTunes is through the roof nowadays, so that shouldn’t be a concern either.

But what if this is an issue of our generation and not of previous generations? I understand if podcasts and iTunes seem to new-fangled for the black church which is usually rather traditional even in the midst of it being very modern. But, even still, you have to keep up with the generation you are trying to reach out to. You must reach outside of the church to get the people who are outside of it. It’s not for the benefit of the people in the church, it’s for the people outside.

So I don’t want this to stretch on for too long, but I am curious to know why more black churches aren’t utilizing podcasts. More and more people are reaching out to technology to reach out to God. And those of us in the church need to remember that in order to reach the world outside, sometimes we need to get their attention with the things they focus their attention on. So, this is me, just wondering…

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