The Loudmouth Protestant

February 26, 2010

Quote of the Day: Thomas A Kempis

I’ve been gone for a little while and I’m sorry for that. I have no lack of things to write about, I just don’t have the time to write about it. But I felt compelled to break the silence today because of something that I read last night in “On the Love of God” by Thomas A. Kempis that really moved me. I risk violating the Fair Use law, but I have to risk it to share something so utterly beautiful that the risk it takes compared to the lives it could change is well worth it. So, here goes:

‘My son,’ saith our Lord to His servant, ‘allow Me to do with you what I will, for I know what is best and most expedient for you. You work in many things according to your human reason and as your affection and your worldly policy stirs you, and so you may easily err and be deceived.’

O Lord, it is true, all that Thou sayest. Thy providence is much better for me than all that I can do or say for myself. Wherefore it may well be said and verified that he stands very uncertainly who sets not all his trust in Thee. Therefore, Lord, while my wits abide steadfast and stable, do with me in all things as it pleaseth Thee, for it may not be but well, all that Thou dost. If Thou wilt that I be in the light, bless Thee; and if Thou wilt that I be in darkness, bless Thee. If Thou wouldst comfort me, bless Thee; and if Thou wilt I live in trouble and without all comfort, bless Thee in equal measure.

‘My son, so it behoves you to be. If you will walk with Me, as ready must you be to suffer as to joy, and as gladly be needy and poor as wealthy and rich.’

Lord I will gladly suffer for Thee whatsoever Thou wilt shall fall upon me. With the same thanks will I take of Thy hand good and bad, bitter and sweet, gladness and sorrow; and for all things that shall befall me, heartily will I thank Thee. Keep me from sin, Lord, and I shall dread neither death nor hell. Put not my name out of the book of life, and it shall not grieve me, whatsoever troubles befall me.

That All Our Study and Busyness of Mind Ought to Be Put in God from “On the Love of God”, By Thomas A Kempis

I wish to be this fully surrendered to His will.


February 10, 2010

On Snow

Filed under: life,randomness — nickisym @ 9:41 pm
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I’m here in New York and we have finally gotten our share of the blizzard that the DMV–that’s D.C., Maryland and Virginia–has been getting for the past few weeks. As I look out the window and watch the snow go from slowly falling to rapidly being blown about in the wind, I think about what snow means to me.

Before we trod upon it with our feet and switch its colors from white to a muddied gray, it is a pure, clean, light, fluffy and fresh matter that we enjoy ourselves in. I still remember the first time my dad took me out in the snow with our sleigh and pulled me around the block until I could squeal with delight no more because my little body was frozen to its core.

We sing about the blood of Jesus making us clean, as white as snow when we sing, “Oh precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

In the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus was resurrected, we read that, “His countenance was like lightning and his raiment was as white as snow.”  Of all of mother nature’s torrents, snow, I believe, is one of her most beautiful creations. Unlike rain and sleet, hurricanes and earthquakes, snow brings with it a certain peace. Though the temptation is to be frustrated with the arrival of snow because it slows things down, we can be grateful because it DOES slow things down.

Cars move slower, trains move slower, buses move slower, people move slower, as each one of those entities has to be a bit more intentional about their movement as opposed to wastefully spending themselves on going fast for no good reason. For those of us who were fortunate enough to get the day or days off from work, let us look at this time not as wasted but as time to get back to the basics of enjoying ourselves and our families. It is rare when we have no other option but to be still and rest. Snow gives us that opportunity to renew ourselves. Sure, it’s daunting to think about how you will dig your car out of it all and how you will navigate the snow-packed streets, but let those cares worry about themselves and live in the moment of a snow day.

Watch your favorite movies, eat your favorite foods, read your favorite book, call your favorite people, sleep, cuddle…Do everything you wouldn’t have occasion to do on any other day. Enjoy and appreciate moments like these when stillness is not an optional, it’s a requirement.

Enjoy being still…Be still…

#5: Countdown to a Love Supreme Day

Filed under: A Love Supreme Day,God,love,valentine's day — nickisym @ 6:00 am
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As I approach 30—granted that’s 10 months from now–I realize how I desire love and to be loved in an earthly sense. I’m not starved for love because I do have all the love I need in God and in the wonderful family and friends He has given me. But there is yet more love that I want to give and still more that I am ready to receive. Being this open and ready for love certainly brings with it extreme vulnerability and a definite possibility of getting hurt more times than not. But the one thing I always take comfort in is knowing God is in control of everything.

Over the last few years when I’ve found myself being interested or liking a person, God has always been the third party in the situation. Most times, it is unbeknownst to the other person, but it is always fully known to me. When I am in the midst of giving too much of myself away too early he reminds me to “guard my heart for it is the wellspring of life.” When I am in danger of getting involved with the wrong person or overspending myself emotionally he removes me from the situation. And then, there are those moments where He gently pushes me into the right direction and encourages me to open myself up and trust Him. He allows me to open my heart and be not afraid of what lies ahead because His perfect love casts out all my fears. He changes me moment by moment and encourages me to be a better woman so that one day, I will be fully prepared for the better man He has prepared for me. For these reasons and more, I choose to stay under His watchful eye when it comes to my desire for love on this earth because I know He will never lead me astray.

God, I trust you and only you with the desires of my heart. I fully know that you know what is best for me, you know who is best for me, you know when is best for me, you know why it’s best for me , you know where is best for me and you know how it will be best for me. I trust you enough to know, “If it’s not you, I don’t want it at all.”

As you navigate the landscape of love this Valentine’s Day, be sure to keep God in His proper place in your relationship. If you can’t see Him in it, there’s a good chance you ought not be in it either.

February 5, 2010

#10: Countdown to a Love Supreme Day

Today’s song may sound familiar to you. Many of us remember exactly who and what the original song makes us think about when we hear it. But the difference between Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me” and Karen and Kierra Sheard’s “He Loves Me” is the focus and where it takes us.

Jill is singing about a horizontal love. The Sheard’s are singing about a vertical love. Jill’s song ignites within many of us, an amourous, erotic fire, which, within the confines of marriage, is fine. But, within the confines of the single Christian man or women, may not help you to keep your flesh in line.

To be clear, I am not condemning Jill’s “He Loves Me”. I think it’s a beautiful, lovely and sensual dedication to her lover. And I’m a woman created by God who was created to and desires to enjoy all of those things–within the confines of a convenant relationship set by God. But, at this moment, while I am unmarried and dedicated to living a chaste life until about 10 minutes after I say, “I Do”, it’s difficult for me to freely listen to Jill’s “He Loves Me” without taking a journey that might very well start in my mind but manifest itself in my actions. For that reason, I keep a tight rein on what I listen to. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, and there are times when I indulge in some music that takes me to the wrong place, but there is always a way out.

Karen and Kiki Sheards’ “He Loves Me” is a way out. Actually, it’s a way in. God’s way in to our hearts. Desiring earthly love is absolutely wonderful–God placed that desire in you. But it is nowhere as fulfilling as living in heavenly love. People have said that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself. Well, I dare to take it one step further and say you can’t love anyone–including yourself–until you realize He loves you.

He loves you. Especially. Different…

February 4, 2010

#11: Countdown to a Love Supreme Day

I am currently reading “The Gift Of Being Yourself” by David Benner. Benner seeks to take readers on a journey to true self-discovery by helping them to realize that everything that they need to become their true self is caught up in knowing God. One of the things that really caught my eye while reading the book is when Benner mentioned that God loves us with a passionate, absorbed interest. As soon as I read that, I imagined God sitting in front of me just staring at me waiting to see what I might do or say next with that look of admiration we hope that someone on this earth might have for us. I imagined that every time I prayed, no matter how trivial the matter, or no matter how many times I had brought it to Him before, He was still standing by waiting to have an occasion with me. At these thoughts I was just amazed at His perfect love.

It’s the love that we all wish for. A love so passionate, so absorbed, so caught up that we don’t see anything or anybody else. THAT, is how God loves us. THAT, is enough to secure us for the rest of our lives. THAT, is the kind of love we can feast off of and never grow hungry or thirsty. THAT, is love unrestrained, unspeakable, unfathomable, unmatchable, unbridled, unadulterated, and unstoppable. Imagine, He has children all over the world and yet the passionate, absorbed interest with which He loves us makes us feel like we are the only ones? THAT, is unselfish.

Considering all of this love He has for me, how can I not be consumed by Him? I just keep having these thoughts of love…

February 3, 2010

“That’s That Supplement”

Those were the words echoed throughout dinner on a girl’s night out with two of my nearest and dearest friends. We were enjoying the spoils of New York Restaurant Week at DavidBurke Townhouse, a comfortably cozy but totally “money” restaurant on the Upper East Side. As is the custom with restaurants during restaurant week, the menu is usually set to a few select items that plebians who can only afford to eat there during restaurant week would order. But DavidBurke, being the establishment that it is, decided that they wouldn’t limit it to a few select items, they opened the entire menu. You could choose whatever you wanted, with one exception, there were certain items on the menu that came with a “supplement”, meaning that you could have them, you just had to pay extra. I locked eyes with an appetizer called the “Crisp and Angry Lobster” and below that lovely name and its description were the words, “$10 Supplement for Restaurant Week” in small writing. I had some internal dialogue questioning whether I wanted to pay the extra $10 for this luxury or spend the $10 on a glass of Prosecco. But I decided that I’d rather have lobster than get light-headed. So we all placed our orders and commenced to catching up. I was mid-sentence when this came to the table:

Crisp and Angry Lobster from DavidBurke Townhouse

Yeah, I really did take a picture of it...

Once this beautifully-presented appetizer hit the table, I was filled with such excitement about what I knew would be a magically-delicious moment. The presentation and the sheer bounty of lobster meat overwhelmed me and this was just the appetizer! My friends stared in amazement and one of them said, “That’s that supplement.” To that I proceeded to enjoy every tasty morsel of sweet lobster meat seasoned and cooked to perfection and drenched in a basil and lemon chili sauce. I was so thankful that I took the supplement because it made the entire meal that much better. I talk about this like it just happened, but the reality is, it was two days ago, but that supplement–and I’m not talking about the extra $10–has stayed with me. It made me think about the concept of the “supplement” and how supplements are an important parts of our lives.

There are vitamin supplements that we use to help us get some of the nutrients in our bodies that we are otherwise missing. There is the supplementary income via extra jobs some of us have to make ends more than meet. There are supplements that some women use to enhance certain parts of their bodies to make them feel better and attractive to more men.  And then there is the most important supplement of them all, the spiritual supplement.

The spiritual supplement is vital to our walks as Christians. There is no way we can sustain ourselves on a diet of Sunday sermons and Sunday sermons alone. We must supplement the appetizer we get on Sunday with hearty entrees every day of the week via our personal reflections on the Bible. Supplement that with commentaries, concordances and dictionaries to help us dive deeper into the word. Supplement that by reading theological, historical, and contemporary Christian books to glean more about our great faith and great God. Supplement that with other teachings and other methods of hearing the word of God–always testing the spirits of each person you hear from to ensure that they are from God.

There are many supplements that we can use to deepen our relationship with God. These supplements strengthen us and help us move from an embedded theology (the messages we hear in church or that we were raised with that rush to the frontline of our Christian experience) to a deliberative theology (what emerges from the embedded theology and challenges us to grow and ask real questions of the faith)–thank you Rev. Gina Stewart for that knowledge. It’s not just about what we are presented with on a Sunday morning as an option to help us on this walk, but it is what we use to supplement it that will help us move into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God. That’s that supplement.

Lest I be remiss, one of the scriptures that came most boldly to my mind as I considered supplements is 2 Peter 1:5, “In view of all of this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.”

In view of all of that, consider and remember the supplements. Don’t just take what is offered, but go one step further and spend yourself for God. The extra cost will all be worth it and in the end, while God is saying, “Well Done”, you can say, as my friend did, “That’s that supplement.”

#12: Countdown to A Love Supreme

Let’s talk about affection.

People talk about being very affectionate whether it be in their romantic relationships, their friendships or with people in general. This affection can be denoted by the gentle touch a woman will assail on a man’s wrist to “check the time”, the way a man caresses the face of a woman he adores, or the wonderful way that someone can, in the words of one of my favorite artists Erykah Badu, “walk up behind me and kiss me on my neck and breathe on my neck”. It’s the way you hold hands with someone you like and even how you hold hands when we are all gathered together in prayer. It’s the hug shared between friends. The holy kiss shared between the saints. The way when you rub someone’s back or just stay very close to them when you sense they are in need of comfort. It’s even in the way you look at a person, your body language toward them. It’s in the things you say and the things you don’t. Affection, between people, is about the use of our bodies and our selves to delicately communicate our like or love for a person, be it platonic or romantic. But between us and God, what does affection look like? Like really? What does it look like when God has won our affection?

I pondered this as I was listening to #12 in the countdown to A Love Supreme Day. “You’ve Won My Affection” by Champions for Christ has always been one of my favorite songs because it is so intimate. It’s more telling than the touch between two earthly beings. It’s suggests and necessitates the opening of our hearts so that we may communicate with God spirit to spirit. The song says:

“You’ve won my affection. You’ve captured my heart. You have my devotion. My worship is yours.”

Then they go on to repeat:

“Now I am yours, completely yours, forever.”

There is not a time when I listen to this song and I don’t get caught up in thinking about how awesome it is to have and know the God who welcomes my affection. My good, sometimes awkward, always pure affection. I’m not the master of being affectionate with people, and there are many people’s model of affection I’d love to imitate, but I take comfort in knowing that I have countless and everlasting opportunities to perfect being affectionate with a God who will never deem my affection imperfect or awkward because our affection is spirit to spirit affection. Because of this, I am thankful to say, on this day, unashamed, that the God of all creation has won my affection, captured my heart, you have my devotion, and now I am His, completely His, forever.

Note: There’s no video accompanying this post. As I was writing this, I wondered if it was getting too long particularly because I knew I still needed to embed the video. I didn’t search for the video until after I finished writing this post and that’s when I found that the version I am looking for, from Champions for Christ, doesn’t exist on YouTube. So, I guess God had His way on this one.

February 2, 2010

#13: Countdown to a Love Supreme Day

Filed under: A Love Supreme Day,God,gospel music,love — nickisym @ 4:31 pm
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“Help me Lord please, to touch somebody, ’cause everybody needs to know they’re loved. Touch me Lord please, to help somebody, ’cause everybody needs to know they’re loved.”

“Help Somebody”

Deitrick Haddon

I heard this song for the first time last Friday thanks to Pandora and I really haven’t been able to stop playing it. I’ve listened to it at least twice a day each day since then. It wasn’t on my original list of love songs to the father, but I decided to do an addendum realizing that this is one of the two great calls we have upon our lives.  Jesus said it himself, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34)

And so on this day, as #13 on the countdown to “A Love Supreme Day” I submit Deitrick Haddon’s “Help Somebody” because it is only in reaching outside of ourselves to extend the love that God has so graciously bestowed upon us to another, that people will know their loved and furthermore, all men shall know we are His disciples. As the old saying goes, “They will know that we are Christians by our love.”

February 1, 2010

The Countdown to A Love Supreme Day

So, here we are about 14 days away from Valentine’s Day. Many people are going into overdrive trying to lockdown their dates for Feb. 14th. Others could care less because they see Valentine’s Day as just another day to make money off of a bunch of lovesick suckers. As for me, I’m cool as a cucumber because I have figured out how I will spend the 14 days leading up to Valentine’s Day, the big day, and the days thereafter.

As you’ll see in the title of this post, I’ve taken the liberty of renaming Valentine’s Day “A Love Supreme Day”. Yeah, I know, that’s the name of a John Coltrane album. He wasn’t so much my inspiration for the rename. Instead, God is the inspiration for the rename because, after all, He is “a love supreme”. And as such I wanted to make this race to the finish for Valentine’s Day all about Him by doing a countdown of some of my favorite love songs to Him. It’s like a mix tape for the lover of my soul.

So join me on this countdown to A Love Supreme Day where we will take our eyes off of the earthly expectations of Valentine’s Day; the flowers, the candy, the dinner by candlelight and instead focus on the heavenly expectation and reality of being extravagantly, luxuriously, opulently, decadently, beautifully, completely and unconditionally loved by God. Speaking of love, here is #14 on the countdown to a Love Supreme Day:

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