The Loudmouth Protestant

June 24, 2010

Quote of the Day: John Ortberg

“It is wrong, it is sin, to accept or remain in a position that you know is a mismatch for you. Perhaps that’s a form of sin you’ve never considered–the sin of staying in the wrong job. But God did not place you on this earth to waste away your years in labor that does not employ his design or purpose for your life, no matter how much you may be getting paid for it.”

John Ortberg, from the book “If You Want to Walk On Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat”

That is all.

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January 29, 2010

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know About You

You’ve heard the statement before. It comes around during the “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you” period. It’s the statement that you love hearing because when someone asks you that it means they really do want to get to know you. But for the intents and purposes of this post, “Tell me something I don’t know about you”, has nothing to do with our horizontal relationships and everything to do with our vertical relationship. You know, the one with God?

I just started reading “The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call of Self-Discovery” by David Benner. I was initially interested in reading this book because my colleague told me that the book helps you to discover your core sins so that you can handle them and move on with living a blameless life. This sounded pretty awesome to me. Of course I want to know what my core sins are. I was ready to get my enneagram on! But, as I began to delve into the book, the notion of finding out about my core sins took a backseat to finding out whether I really know God as much as I profess to or whether I only know about God. It’s a hard thing to take a look at yourself and figure out if you only know about God or if you know of God. Are you a Pharisee or a disciple? I meditated on that for a while and I continued to read until Benner brought up an  “ouch”-worthy point that some of us know God less well than we know our common acquaintances. Benner went on to talk about how relationships develop when people spend time together and how our spending time with God ought to be in the essence of prayer. But he pointed out that we treat prayer like a text message or an e-mail to God. We do a whole lot of talking about what we want and need and rarely much listening. We talk a lot to God but barely allow Him to talk to and with us. When we are having conversations with our friends, we always talk and listen, within the span of the conversation. We don’t just talk for 30 minutes and then walk away from the conversation leaving our friend with no opportunity to talk. (Or maybe we do and this problem extends to other areas of our lives.) But, when I considered it under that lens, that we handle our horizontal relationships better than we handle God, I had to stop and think about how I was going to bring that level of attentiveness and diligence into my relationship with God. After all, He is all I have. If I lose every family member and friend I’ve ever known, I will still have God. If I am trying to move from knowing about him and knowing of him partially, to knowing of him in whole, what can I start doing now to nurture the relationship and open the gates of communication?

It didn’t take me too long to figure out what I needed to do. I needed to ask God to tell me something about Himself that I currently don’t know.  Something I can’t read in the Bible or hear from a pastor, something deeply personal that only He could tell me as I result of my staying on Him like white on rice. Something He’d tell me because He wants me to know and because He wants to deepen my personal experience with Him. I decided that as part of my daily prayer time with God, I would ask Him, “Tell me something I don’t know about you.” I want to sit and wait for His answer with the same type of anticipation that I would with a potential suitor. If it means that I will wait all day for His answer, then I will wait. I will wait with my ears open. I will actively engage myself in waiting for God to tell me something I don’t know about Him. I will watch for His answer, I will listen for His answer, I will wait for His answer and set my mind on Him because I’m really interested in knowing something new about my God, because I am really interested in knowing God in that intimate way. A way that is personal to me.

The reality of the situation is, I AM really interested in God. I love God. I’ve said those three words to Him, over and over and over again. I love thinking about Him. I love thinking about thinking of Him. I love thinking about spending time with Him. I love thinking about His word and His history. But, I desire so much more of Him. I want to and need to desire more of Him because He desires more of me. It’s hard to turn your back on a love that strong. A love that loved you before you were even born. That’s love. A love that loves you regardless of what you do. That’s love. A love that sacrificed himself for you. That’s love. A love that knows everything about you and still desires to sit and talk to you and listen to you talk for hours on end about everything and nothing. That’s love. How could I not want to spend myself growing deeper in love with God knowing all of that and much more? He IS love.

And so today, I ask God and challenge you to ask Him, “God, tell me something I don’t know about you.” And watch Him take you into a whole new place of knowing Him, personally.

PS: In case you are interested in reading the book that inspired this post, here it is:

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 1, 2009

Quote of the Day: William Cleary

Filed under: books,God,prayer,spirituality — nickisym @ 4:35 pm
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I happened to be reading an introduction in William Cleary’s book, “We Side with the Morning” when I came across this beautiful passage about prayer, the difficulties some have with it and what prayer can be compared to.

“Some people tell me they have given up on prayer. Why? It doesn’t work, and it doesn’t work for them. And it’s all too impossible to figure out: it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps, in a way, such folks are the wisest. On the other hand, I think it makes sense to pray as long as we realize that talking to God is like talking to your dog. We speak in English to our dog, but he mostly pays attention to our smell. Similarly, we may soar around in the cloud of unknowing trying to talk to God, but God of course is mostly paying attention for the aroma of compassion for those who are lonely and in need, those who are thirsty and hungry, and whom we help with water, food, and housing.”

William Cleary, “We Side with the Morning” Introduction

What I found most amazing about this quote was the comparison that Cleary about prayer to God being like talking to your dog. Dogs are focusing on our smell while we speak to them. God is focusing on our hearts when we speak to Him. I thought about how we all waste such precious emotional and mental energy trying to come up with the right words to say in prayer to God. We get frustrated when we feel our prayers aren’t verbose enough or maybe when we have plenty to say we feel like broken records. But really, there are no right amount of words that make the perfect prayer. No, it is in the heart of the prayer that God hears. So if we focus our hearts, not our words on God, maybe the message would be delivered more clearly. He wants to feel our hearts. He wants us to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” 

In the next few weeks, I’ll be working on a gallery of Cleary’s prayer which will be posted on Beliefnet.com. Stay tuned for the link…

May 28, 2009

Quote of the Day: Vincent Presti

I always seem to find the most interesting books laying around and because I am an avid reader, I manage at least skim through those that I am faintly intrigued with. My latest skim-through, “Career Discernment: Shamanic Laws & Statutes for Dispirited Professionals and Spirited Job Seekers”. I know what some of you may be thinking, “A Shaman? Really Loudmouth Protestant quoting a Shaman? It was enough that you quote Thomas of Aquinas and shared a novena your Protestant self though was interesting, but Shaman???” Yeah well, I told you, I’m a reader and being such there are times when I come across interesting quotes from the most interesting sources. Stephen King isn’t exactly a saint. So here’s my quote of the day, brought to you by Shaman Lawyer Vincent Presti.

“Never fret over mistakes!

No error is really uncorrectable

Except, your submission to error

as an enemy of your life

Rather than a confidant and friend

to encourage your personal growth.

I love this quote because I am the first to fret about the mistakes I’ve made on any given day. I’ll write an e-mail to someone, read it after I sent it–after I’ve read it twice before sending–and see that there is a spelling or punctuation error and I will practically throttle myself simply because I don’t want the receiver to think I am silly enough to not copyedit my e-mails. I’ll talk to some guy I like and stumble over my words in our conversation and be embarassed because I swear he’ll think I am not quite as eloquent as he initially thought. I’ll re-read posts on this blog and see errors and think, “That must be why my traffic is low.” But this is a perfect reminder to not be ruled by errors, consider them a lesson and keep it moving. And lest you think I’ve completely lost my mind, I didn’t really need a Shaman to tell me this, I know that Jesus died for my errors aka sins and I’m given new life in Him everyday and that was established well before Shaman wisdom. 🙂

May 16, 2009

Quote of the Day: “The Unlikely Disciple”

I’ve been really engrossed in the book “The Unlikely Disciple” the story of a Brown University student who transfers to the school that Falwell built, Liberty University, to see what life is like on the Evangelical side of things. The student in question, Kevin Roose, writes about his semester at Liberty with such transparency that at times in makes me blush. Particularly when he talks about the paradoxical life of young Evangelicals. The quote I’d like to share comes at a point in the book when Kevin realizes that Liberty students are obsessed with pretribulationary dispensational premillenialism, otherwise known as rapture and the events that follow it.

 

“Problem is, a lot of Christians who believe the world is headed for imminent destruction don’t use their eschatology to motivate altruism.”

May 12, 2009

Quote of the Day: Stephen King

Filed under: books,randomness — nickisym @ 3:22 pm
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Thanks to Owen Thomas over at Gawker for finding this gem of a quote. If you haven’t realized by now, I love snarkiness, the implicit and the explicit. Being snarky and a cynic has been my cross to bear for some time now, but day-by-day I am slaying the beast.

In the meantime I must live vicariously through those who won’t be slaying the beast anytime soon. Here’s one from Stephen King who was telling a NY Times editor what he thinks about people who steal his books the digital way:

 

The question is, how much time and energy do I want to spend chasing these guys. And to what end? My sense is that most of them live in basements floored with carpeting remnants, living on Funions and discount beer.

 

March 23, 2009

Have You Really Forgiven?

Filed under: books,God,spirituality — nickisym @ 6:27 pm
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It is currently Women’s Season at my church and as such all of the women in the church–or most of them–are reading the book, “Having a Mary Spirit: Allowing God to Change Us from the Inside Out” by Joanna Weaver. Weaver walks women through the pitfalls that keep us from walking a straight path with God such as our battle with our flesh, our inability to surrender to God, the battlefield of our minds and in the most recent chapter that I read, bitterness.

It’s hard to admit that you have been holding a grudge and harboring bitterness about the big blowouts and the small missteps that have passed. But somehow all of them take root in us and just when we think we have forgiven and forgotten it is revealed to us that we’ve not even broke ground on the situation or ourselves yet. That’s what happened to me while reading the chapter on bitterness. One simple phrase uprooted me and made me take a second look at whether the people who I called myself forgiving have really been forgiven.

Weaver referred to this quote by Karyl Huntley:

“How I know I have forgiven someone, is that he or she has harmless passage in my mind.”

Weaver then went on to say,

“True forgiveness provides harmless passage. No accusing arrows. No passive attempts at revenge. The person’s name is safe on my tongue–and I’m kept safe from the poison of my own resentment.”

Does every person who has committed an offense against you have harmless passage in your mind? Think on that…

August 13, 2008

Lesson #2 from “The Shack”: Real Relationship is Waiting

This is my continuation of “Lessons from ‘The Shack’

(Spoiler Alert: Look away now if you haven’t gotten to the part of the book where Mack goes to back to the shack. )

When Mack meets the Trinity, he is dumbfounded at how they treat him. They each welcome him with open arms starting with ‘Papa’ (God). God is so welcoming, so loving, so doting upon Mack that he just can’t believe she is real. To top it off, the Trinity relates to each other with such love and gentleness. All of this is throwing Mack for a loop, and so, for his first few hours there he can’t stop asking questions that tell of his ignorance to the all-encompassing love of God. It’s unfathomable to him that God, regardless of how many times he comes at her with question that smack of anger and frustration, is still loving, kind, patient and merciful.

In my reading of this portion of Mack’s experience, I just couldn’t help but smile at the description of ‘Papa.” She’s a big black woman whose voice—I imagine—is soothing and she is as sweet as honeydew. She is ever so patient with Mack and willing to answer every question. She is inviting and hospitable. And she is patient. She is patient. She is patient. I can’t say it enough because that is the one part of her being that I love the most. That is what I love about God—I can name many things but I am human and the one thing I have very little of is patience, but God has it all.

‘Papa’ waited for Mack to come to the shack and experience the fullness of her love. And in just the same way God waits for us to come in and visit Him. And not just in the obligatory sense, but in the “I really want to be here with you, right now,” kind of way. He wants us to pull up a seat and just bask in His love. You know the same way we wait to get home to a loved one so that we can rest in that warm embrace and stare into those beautiful eyes. God is waiting for us to enjoy doing that with Him. God is waiting for us to open our hearts to Him as we would any man or woman we are in relationship with. It kills me—personally—that it’s easy for me to open my heart to human beings yet so hard for me to open it fully to God, considering it’s much more likely for my heart to be broken by people on this earth than it is for God to break my heart.

But the relationship that God offers us is real if we would only believe. If we step away from preconceived notions of who we think He is and how we think He works and just rest in knowing that He is God and God all by Himself, we could experience a deep shift in our lives. Once we step away from the empty busyness—and business—of our lives, we might stand to really be filled with the greatest love of our lives. I learned this week that the only thing we truly have time for is that which God has called us to do. And piggybacking off of that statement, I’d surmise that we only really have time for God.

As a single woman, I know it’s a scriptural mandate to make God my primary concern because when I get married I will have to divide my time between being a Proverbs 31 wife and a servant of God. But for now I must be a Proverbs 31 woman utterly in love with God and utterly caught up with pleasing Him. It’s the only real relationship I can have right now. The only one that will never leave me disappointed. The only one that won’t build me up, just to let me down. The only one that will be consistently unconditional. The only one that will matter at the end of the day. And it will only be as real as I—we—make it.

More to come…

Looking Upon the Glory

Filed under: books,God — nickisym @ 12:39 pm
Tags: , ,

This morning, as I was on my way to work, I ran into a peculiar young man. Well, maybe I shouldn’t call him peculiar but there was something about him that made me wonder about his future. He was young, maybe about 14 or 15 years old, with corn-rowed hair that obviously had expired a few weeks ago. He was wearing a long-sleeve gray silk shirt with a nice tie and a pair of slacks and dress shoes. He carried what appeared to be an attaché in one hand and a gym bag in another hand. I was drawn to the gym bag which had the logo of what I believe is either an investment or law firm.

I couldn’t stop staring at this young man because while his cornrows would have been telling, I had this feeling that he was destined for greatness. I felt like he was probably on his way to part of the journey this morning. For the length of our ride together—which was only about 3 minutes, I just thought very highly of this young man. As I departed the train, I thought about the implications of shifting my thoughts about him from negative to positive and I remembered something that C.S. Lewis said in “The Weight of the Glory” about glory yet to be seen in our neighbors. I thought I would share that this afternoon and let it forever change how you see your neighbor.

An excerpt from “The Weight of the Glory” by C.S. Lewis

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

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