The Loudmouth Protestant

March 30, 2010

Easter Vigils in New York City

Admittedly this Lenten season has not been one of my best. Actually, in writing that I feel kind of silly because I’m not sure that God is measuring our Lenten experiences on a scale of “Poor, Fair, Good, Better, Best”. Nevertheless, I feel the need to just finish strong and strengthen what remains in these last few days and I’m thankful that during Holy Week there is plenty of opportunity to do so. To that end, I’ve decided that I am going to attend an Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday. I’ve always wanted to attend an Easter Vigil service, but I’ve always been late finding out about services in my area—when I say late, I find out about it at 7:00 and service is at 7:00. This year, I’m not leaving any stone unturned. I did my research early and now I just have to figure out which one I’m attending—because as you’ll see, there are plenty. I thought I’d share this list so that if anyone is in the New York area, they too can experience the beauty of the Easter Vigil service. If you have any additions to this list, please feel free to add to the comments.

Be Blessed!

Easter Vigils in New York City

St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square  at 7:00PM

145 WEST 46TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY

The Cathedral Church 0f St. John the Divine at 7:00

1047 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York 10025

The Church of the Ascension at General Theological Seminary at 8:00PM

Due to construction at GTS, enter the seminary close at 440 W. 21st Street, between Ninth and Tenth Avenues.

Riverside Church at 7:30

490 Riverside Drive New York, New York 10027

St. Ignatius of Loyola at 7:30 on the dot

980 Park Avenue at 84th Street, New York

The Church of the Epiphany at 7:30

1393 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021

The Church of the Holy Trinity at 7:00PM

316 E. 88th Street, New York, NY 10128

Church of Saint Francis Xavier at 8:00PM

46 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011

The Church of St. Luke’s in the Fields at 8:00PM

487 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

PS: This is by no means a comprehensive list, you can find more simply by searching “Easter Vigils in New York City” or “Easter Vigils (Fill in the location blank)”.

Quick Easter Vigil primer: An Easter Vigil, in some Protestant traditions and the Catholic church, is considered the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the Easter Vigil, a Paschal candle is lit to symbolize the resurrection of Christ and the light of salvation and hope that he brought into the world as a result of His resurrection–and no doubt, His life. Easter Vigil services usually begin after sunset on Holy Saturday but can start before sunrise on Easter Sunday–the sun rise replacing the lighting of the Paschal candle.

Want to know more? Check out Wikipedia’s Easter Vigil entry or The Voice’s Easter Season Primer

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:

January 20, 2010

The Moral of the Story: The Book Of Eli

The Book of Eli

If you’ve read this blog for a good length of time you’ll know that I always have great ideas for recurring sections, but hardly the time to keep them coming. So, as I always do, I introduce to you yet another recurring section that I am hopeful will occur again. “The Moral of the Story” will be a review of recent movie release’s spiritual relevance to the body of believers. Nothing more, nothing less. So, let’s get right into it.

This past holiday weekend I had the opportunity to see “The Book of Eli”, the Hughes brothers post-apocalyptic flick about a man who is carrying the last known Bible and risking his life to protect it. Denzel Washington plays the title character of the film, which comes as no big surprise since he is pretty vocal about his faith in Hollywood. The movie follows Eli’s journey as he navigates the grayish lands of the post-apocalyptic world in search of cat meat, nice boots and clean water. In between all of this he carries with him the precious treasure/weapon of the last King James Bible known to man. He guards it with his life, participates in a little bit of Christian fundamentalist violence to protect it and does all of this while remaining just as cool as he was in “Mississippi Masala” with the gangster edge he had in “Training Day”. He is a man’s man endeavoring to be God’s man.

When I first considered writing this review, I was going to talk about all the awesome messages about faith that are packed in the nearly 2 hour film. But then, in a conversation with a friend, I realized that not only is about a faith, but faith from a perspective that men can actually grasp, comprehend, and be changed by. Far too often, particularly in Christianity, men are turned away because they feel like the church caters to the emotional whims of women. The Christian church is filled with more women than men, so men can hardly find a connection there except through the pastor, and even then, he is too distant. But “The Book of Eli” does well to deliver a message that men can find themselves in because it embraces the masculinity of the faith. It draws attention to the one area I believe most men have a problem with when they are navigating the faith, walking by faith and not by sight. It hearkens back to the notion that men are logical creatures while women are emotional ones and thus it is simple for us to get wrapped up in a relationship with an unseen God because our hearts are moved by all that we read about Him. Most women don’t need much proof to be swayed to worship the only wise God. I mean, think about it, we are the ones that go in droves to see romantic comedies and buy Harlequin books because we are wired to desire love. This is not to say that men aren’t looking for love, but they have to go through a process before they even begin to be ready for love on the level that I feel we were born with.

Nevertheless, back to the point at hand because I am no expert on the matter. In my conversation with my friend she mentioned that a guy friend of hers said that the movie changed his life because of the concept of walking by faith and not by sight. This is all Eli did throughout the movie. He possessed the great faith to walk around with a book that others wanted to possess for evil and were willing to kill him for and didn’t bat an eyelash. He was tough, but still weak enough to realize that He could do nothing without God. He knew how to be chivalrous and cavalier in the midst of a bunch of brutes. He could wield a bow & arrow, a machete or a gun, but he knew his way around the Good Book with ease and cunning. He was just an awesome example of masculine faith in a marketplace sometimes too dominated by women of faith. He was Denzel Washington for God’s sake, toting around a Bible, reading a Bible and reciting the 23rd Psalm and there was nothing femme about it.

I don’t really want to belabor this review any longer suffice to say that if you have a man in your life that is teetering on the edge of his faith, this is the movie for him to see. I’m not going to guarantee you that he will walk out of the theatre a changed man, but what I can say is that any man with an iota of a heart for God will be moved by this movie’s message, walk by faith and not by sight.

December 3, 2009

A Philippians 4:13 Meditation

Filed under: bible,christianity,Jesus — nickisym @ 8:00 am
Tags: ,

Last night I spent alot of time at my desk with my hands on my head trying to get my brain to comprehend what it just doesn’t seem to want to grasp at the moment. I sat back and thought to myself, “I need a scripture to meditate on.” No sooner than the thought popped into my mind did the scripture pop into my mind. It’s an oldie but goody, but I meditated on it differently, choosing to repeat it over and over again with strong emphasis on every word as I went through the repetition. The scripture and its intent were illuminated in my mind by doing this and I just had to get it out of my head and put it down so that others might be blessed by it too.

A Phillipians 4:13 Meditation to be repeated and each time you repeat it emphasize the next word.

Say it normally the first time:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Second time say it and emphasize the first word:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Third time say it and emphasize the second word:

“I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Fourth time say it and emphasize the third word:

“I can DO all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

And so on so forth. At the end of it, your meditation should look like this:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I can DO all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I can do all THINGS through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I can do all things THROUGH Christ who strengthens me.”

“I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me.”

“I can do all things through Christ WHO strengthens me.”

“I can do all things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me.”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens ME.”

Then say it one last time. Scream it to the mountain tops. Shout it in the devil’s face or to anyone or anything that is trying to convince you that you can’t do what you have set out to do.

“I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.”

All better. 🙂

October 2, 2009

The Last 100 Days Challenge

As I was trolling around on some blogs I ran into a challenge. No, my computer didn’t freeze up. I’m on an Apple so it is rare, if ever, that it freezes up. (Sorry that was neither here nor there but thought I’d represent for Team Apple, Mac or whatever they call these things. And I digress.) So I ran into this challenge entitled “The Last 100 Days Challenge“. The creator of this challenge, a blogger by the name of LoveLiDaze created this in response to a message she heard her pastor preach. It was about loving God and in really loving Him, loving His words. LoveLiDaze reflected upon this and wondered if her love for God was doing Him any justice because she hadn’t been in His word like she should be. I’ve been there.

I, like many other people, started the year off with ambitious plans to read the Bible cover to cover. Major and minor prophets. Books of poetry. Proverbs. Pentateuch. Synoptic gospels and even the apocrypha. I’m a really ambitious person when it comes to spiritual goals. Whether I achieve them is a completely different story. Nevertheless, LoveLiDaze is encouraging everyone to join her in the Last 100 Days Challenge which will find us all falling in love with God’s word and thus falling deeper in love with God. So what does it take?

Just pick up that Bible that’s been sitting on your bedside table, coffee table, bookshelf or wherever you keep the Good Book. Blow the dust off of it, un-peel the pages from each other, shake out the silverfish and let’s get to reading–side note: I know everyone doesn’t have a seldom-used Bible, but I like to be dramatic. The whole point is, we are on a adventure to fall in love with the lover of our soul. Doesn’t matter what you read. Let him lead you to it. But read it every day for the next 90 days and commit to it. Yes, you might miss a few days, but you can dust yourself off–since you already dusted your Bible off–and try again.

Let’s spend the next 90 days falling in love with Jesus. It’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done.

September 10, 2009

The Vigilant Christian Campaign Intro

Filed under: christianity,entertainment,God,life — nickisym @ 6:08 pm

A few days ago, a friend sent me a blog post from a site called Vigilant Citizen. The purpose of this site is the expose the occult in some of today’s most popular music, places and people. My introduction to VC was through his analysis of Jay-Z’s “We Run This”. Earlier that day, before I had even read the post, and actually before I even knew the post existed, I tried to watch the video on YouTube. But as I sat there and watched the opening scene of the video, it didn’t sit well with me.  Next I tried to just listen to the song, but my computer or my God would have none of it as the song stopped, started and sputtered to play. So I gave up on listening to it.

Later on that night I read the post where VC would analyze the video and songs lyrics and claim that Jay-Z has some connection to the Illuminati, Freemasonry and Ordo Templi Orientis. The friend who sent it to me said she was blown away and after I finished reading it I was too. Not so much because I believe Jay-Z is a member of any of these societies. I am unsure of that and honestly will never know the truth. I am more blown away by the fact that an artist that we all have listened to for so long openly embraces darkness as a tool to sell his music. But why should I be shocked?

It’s not about Jay-Z being an alleged member as much as it is about him being ok with playing with the notion in his music. Which leads me to believe that he’s not thinking about his music being beneficial to anyone but himself. My friend who sent me the VC post had purchased the Jay-Z album earlier that day told me she was going to return but also remarked about how difficult this faith walk was getting simply because we have to turn our plates under from alot of the things that used to be perfectly normal and so-called harmless to us. But I posed the question to her, “When Jay-Z made the album, do you think he thought it would bring people closer to God or closer to him?” I think we can all rightfully answer that question since Jay-Z is the same man who calls himself “Hova” or “J-Hova” an obvious one off of one of our father’s holy names, Jehovah.

So confronted with this knowledge of Jay-Z and other artists in the secular industry being possibly connected to the occult, displaying everything opposite of the fruits of the spirit we are called to display, and pondering that they glorify darkness through subliminal and obvious messages in their music, I was compelled and even convicted to suggest a fast from the world to all who would in the body of Christ.

This has been on my mind for sometime as music has always been a struggle of mine. Years ago, I remember getting into it with a group of Christian young adults who asked me why I still listen to secular music. I told them that the music I listen to is harmless and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. But they shouted me down that afternoon. They told me that it made no sense to entertain secular music. I didn’t agree at that time. And after that time I’ve gone through many transitions where I didn’t listen to any secular music, didn’t listen to it much and started listening to it all over again. But there’s always been this distinct feeling that much of what I listen to, watch, read and consume, in its harmelessness is actually quite harmful to my spirit, subversively.

And with this recent questioning of Jay-Z and his connection to the occult–along with a slew of other popular artists like Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, etc I’ve been wondering how I am edifying myself by continuing to support their music. Even in small doses it can be damaging to my spirit.

So you sit and listen to Jay-Z sing about how rich he is, how he’s married to the hottest chick in the game, how he thinks other rappers are lame, how he and his Roc nation will run this town tonight and you walk away from the music with a trumped up sense of self. A false one. Or you listen to Beyonce sing about having a big ego that she can back up, or being a diva or you watch her serpentine moves and you emulate them in the comforts of your own home and you ingest that sultry, sensual, lascivious nature and put yourself in danger of creating and feeding a Jezebel spirit. You listen to Kanye sing about how great he is, how stylish he is, how there is no one as hot as he is, you watch him be a self-obsessed fool in the midst of the media and you eat it up but also don’t realize that you take on some of that persona yourself. The list goes on and on for the numerous artists we let have entry into our minds by way of their music and media presence.

But this is not just about music. This is about every godless creation out there. There is so much out there that can wrongfully fill us. The music, the movies, the books, the magazines, anything that we can consume will wrong fill us. On the train on Tuesday morning, a man came on and started to preach, but his preaching was so wrought with despair and pain. It was unlike any other street preacher I’d heard. He was practically sobbing as he told us to steer clear of the evil of this world and he told us, the passengers on the train, to let go of the godless music, movies and books and anything that would create a barrier from God getting to us. I felt him deeply on this. More than words could express. So it’s not coincidental to me that after hearing his mini-sermon, trying to play the Jay-Z video and then reading the VC piece that all arrows are pointing to me making a concerted effort to cut the crap. (more…)

The Vigilant Christian Theme Song

Filed under: christianity,God — nickisym @ 5:08 pm
Tags: , ,

I am sure this will be one of many theme songs to arise out of the Vigilant Christian movement, but today this stuck out to me as the primary song of a campaign that will be coming to you soon.

Want to know what the Vigilant Christian campaign is. Check back later on today or early tomorrow to get information on what inspired it and what it will be. It will take a community, break an individual, and upbuild the kingdom. More coming soon…

June 10, 2009

What Is God Better Than?

Filed under: christianity,music — nickisym @ 10:13 pm
Tags: , ,

Just about every day within the past few weeks I’ve managed to find a new favorite song. I’m what some people might call a promiscuous music lover. I hop from song to song as the feeling arises and though I may state loving a song or album on one week, by the next I’m on to the next shiny disc–and yes, I still like purchasing CDs, I need liner notes. Anyways, that is neither here or there in this post. The song I discovered today is Skillet’s “Better Than Drugs”. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the group, as I was mere days before listening to their album “Comatose”, they are a Christian rock group who sounds kind of like Good Charlotte (in my humble opinion). Anyways, their CD is one that is totally rocking my face off, much like Decyfer Down’s was last week. So the song, “Better Than Drugs”, is all about how Jesus is better than, well, drugs. I loved the song so much when I heard it that I had to replay it about 5 times in a row.

“You’re better than drugs, your love is like wine, feel you comin’ on so fast, feel you comin’ on to get me high. You’re better than drugs, addicted for life, feel you comin’ on so fast, feel you comin’ on to get me high.”

In thinking about the song some more, I started thinking about the things that I believe God is better than. I could easily say drugs, but I’ve never tried drugs so that’d be unfair–this is not to say any of the members of Skillet have, but I’m gathering that their target audience is tempted by drugs more than me.  

So what do I think God is better than? Cupcakes, Tostitos Bite Size Tortilla chips, vintage dresses, plantains, cheeseburgers, broccoli, books, Gossip Girl, The Game, anything on television really, my Blackberry, my insecurities, this blog, my best thoughts, my worst days, the list is endless. Would it be too trite to say he’s better than everything? Because he is.

What do you think God is better than?

 



June 4, 2009

Tearing Down the Wall of Distraction

I’ve been sporadically following the progress of the Courageous Church in Atlanta via the pastor, Shaun King’s blog. It’s a young church planted freshly in the soils of the city of Atlanta. Pastor King is quite progressive in his approach to reaching believers in Atlanta, which if you’ve ever been, it takes more than just traditional Sunday fare to get an ATLiens attention.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to spend a lot of time telling you what I think about this ministry, especially because I’ve not yet been–(I’m hoping to drop by this summer). I just wanted to share this incredible video with you. It’s entitled “Tearing Down the Wall of Distraction”:

The most powerful part of the video, for me, was not watching the miniature demolition of tangible and intangible concepts, but of the peoples confession to what is keeping them from a right relationship with God. It was only after they admitted there was a problem that they could tackle it head on and the light could break forth like the dawn…

What is on your wall of distraction and what will you do about it?

June 2, 2009

Fulfilling Holy Desires in Unholy Ways

Filed under: christianity,God,life,love,relationships — nickisym @ 11:54 pm

Do not be envious of those who fulfill holy desires in unholy ways, their pleasure is but for a moment. But your patience in waiting for God to grant you you His holy desire will produce that which lasts a lifetime. –Chris Burge inspired, Nicole Symmonds translated

Today I posted this quote on my Facebook page that was inspired by my Bible Study teacher Chris Burge. In his current series entitled “Test, Temptation and Trials” Chris goes through the Christian’s response to each of these areas. (We are to pass the tests, flee from temptation, and endure trials.) He spent a good deal of time talking about the temptations and the tests in the Christian life. He stated, of tests, that the two biggest ones in the lives of Christians are our sexual integrity and our finances. But the word I have to share is what he shared with us shortly after telling us about our two major tests. He stated that the adversary seeks to get us to fulfill holy desires in an unholy way.  That resonated with me so deeply because within the last few weeks, months, and years, I have watched many people fulfill holy desires in unholy ways and they send their brothers and sisters in the body of Christ reeling because of their disobedience and envious of their wicked ways.

Let me break it down for you so it can forever and consistently remain broke. I’m a single Christian woman and this is a sensitive area for me because I have vowed to keep myself pure until marriage. There have been moments when I have fallen into temptation and those moments make me sick to my stomach because I know they weren’t by God’s will but by my flesh. But I repent and I keep it moving, vowing never to be entangled in those sins again and even going as far as disconnecting myself completely from those who I know I’m in danger of falling into temptation with again. But I watch people, people who profess to be Christians, people who sing God’s praises, live lives full of sin because they are slaves to their flesh. These same people walk around as if the sins of the flesh are negotiable parts of their relationship with God. They acknowledge Jesus with their mouths but crucify Him with their lives. Now I know we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but how many times will you continue to fall short and take advantage of God’s great grace? 

In the midst of watching these fair-weather Christians, there are many other men and women in the body of Christ who are getting stressed out because they are waiting on the Lord but watching people, people who profess to believe in Christ, do all the wrong things and still–seemingly–get their heart’s desire. I see these people who claim God put them together yet they are not even following His holy precepts. They pursued the relationship out of the flesh, they are slaves to the flesh in their relationships and they parade it around and call it love. And they confuse the body of believers who are waiting on Him. It burned me to see people boldly–and some unknowingly–mock God with their lifestyles but they still get what they want, the relationship, the money, the house, etc, etc.

As you read this I’m sure you’re thinking this is still something I get annoyed with, but it’s actually not. I don’t get mad about it anymore simply because I realized that I can’t be envious of people who insist on going against God’s will and living life their way. (The race is not given to the swift.) I can’t be annoyed simply because, as the scriptures say, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord prevails over them all.” These various people in their seemingly perfect relationships shall have to account to God for deciding to do things their way. Their relationships, which look perfect from the outside could be in total shambles on the inside. Why should I be mad that they fulfill holy desires in unholy ways knowing that their pleasure will last for a moment while my brothers, sisters and I in the body of Christ who endure until the end to wait upon what God has for us will enjoy the gift that God will give us which will last for a lifetime.

This is for all my soldiers waiting and are feeling themselves get weak and are watching people get their heart’s desires fulfilled despite living totally backward and backslidden lives. Don’t be discouraged, frustrated, or angry. First and foremost pray for those people you know doing life their way instead of God’s way. Then simply remember, there is great reward in waiting on the Lord. Here’s to those who are waiting on real love…It will come to pass.

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