Beginnings (The Bible)

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The History Channel aired their first episode of a new series called, “The Bible” today.  My Sunday School Class planned on showing us the episodes but a week behind schedule.  I couldn’t help but succumb to temptation and watch it as it aired with my Mom just half an hour ago.  I was pleasantly surprised by how accurate the depiction of the bible was, minus a tad bit of over dramatization.

Then there were the Christian matrimony commercials that seemed to air every other commercial break, or maybe every commercial break.

Despite these few setbacks, the first episode of, “Beginnings” made me think.

The first part of the episode focused on Abraham and Issac, while the second half focused more Moses in Egypt.  For the purpose of this post I want to focus on the relationship between Abraham and Issac.

Watching Abraham painfully reach to sacrifice his child was heartbreaking.  I know that this parallels Jesus dying for our sins but hearing Issac cry out begging broke my heart.  This story is always told from the point of view of Abraham- but what about Issac?  How would we feel as Issacs?  Can we humble ourselves so much that we can accept being laid as an offering.

Surprisingly enough, I think the biggest things Christians today need to deal with is pride.  Lots and lots of pride that shadows over everything that we do.  I struggle with this everyday of my life.  I forget that sometimes, it’s not about me.  Some of us are called to be Abrahams, but some of us are called to be Issacs.  I respect Issac, but I don’t know if I posses enough grace to be okay with my life being put in jeopardy.  I pray that one day I can though.

I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series.  If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend you tune in!

The art of forgiveness

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Forgiveness.  Is there anything harder to do in the entire world than to forgive someone you feel wronged by?  I sincerely doubt it.

The funny thing is that so many times, people act as though they do something amazing by forgiving others.  But in many ways, once you are able to forgive, you are the one released from all bitterness and hate.  Forgiveness is not even something that is entirely our own.  Jesus came into a corrupt, desolate and hateful world, but still forgave.  Giving up his own life to atone for the sins of people who spat and mocked him.  As Christians, this is the type of love we strive to emulate in our lives.  A type of love that is willing to forgive others because we understand that we too need forgiving.

Matthew 6:14-15

Yes, if you forgive others for their sins, your Father in heaven will also forgive you for your sins.  But if you don’t forgive others, your Father in heaven will not forgive your sins.
The above verse explains this to us so well.  Forgiveness isn’t in our hands.  How can we refuse forgiveness to others when God forgave us so freely?  Knowing that as human beings we hold a sinful nature- that only God can help us escape.

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There have been so many times in my life, when I’ve wanted nothing more than to hold unto hate.  But there have been so many more times in my life where people have forgave me, even when there was no reason for them to do so.  No other reason than the fact that they are a child of God and when you’re really close to God- you become like him.  Silly things don’t matter and you’re able to forgive someone who seems unworthy of forgiveness.

Being on the other side of the coin, I value value forgiveness so much.  There comes a point where we need to learn to even forgive ourselves sometimes. And that can be the hardest thing of all to do.  Because realizing we are wrong is so painful to admit, especially to ourselves.

More than anything when we realize how wrong we have been, we value the gift of forgiveness so much more.

The art of discipline

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Discipline.  This is one of the hardest things in the world to attain.  The above picture is a shout out to one of my closest friends Christine.  She’s studying in a very intensive six year program and I know she reads my blog, every post even.  Keep going love because at the end of the day you work for what you really want.

Something that I’ve been struggling with especially over these last couple of months has been my lack of discipline.  I sincerely have no idea what has been going through my mind lately!  Even those of you who read my blog regularly may have noticed it.  In many ways I’ve kind of just dropped off of the face of the earth.

I was worried about my spiritual growth.  I was worried about what would happen when I started taking classes that demanded more of my time.  I’ve learned that at the end of the day, everything comes down to discipline.  It’s so easy to fall prey to procrastination and wasted time but I urge you not to do so.

There are 14 weeks in a semester, that’s not a lot of time.  If you want to pursue a deeper relationship with God, learn more in your classes and work towards finding your true purpose- you need to put in the time.

Even with something like developing a relationship with God, discipline is the only way to get to know our father.  Pursue him, spend time with him.  Make it a conscious effort and part of your everyday to make God your priority.  I’m going to try to do this and hopefully there will be a visible difference.  No, there will be a visible difference in me.

One thing that really pushes my competitive side was a quote that said something along the lines of, “one day while you slept and did nothing, someone else was working and when you meet that person- they will beat you.”  In terms of our relationship with God, it’s not a competition.  But God deserves our time for no other reason than the fact that he is God.  You become like the things you worship.  And you worship the things you give priority and time to in your life.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Slut Shaming

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When I was looking for pictures to better explain what I want to talk about in this post, I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to stumble on the picture above.  Slut.  The word burns to even to write into this post.  And recently there has been an uproar of something called, “Slut-shaming”.  This basically means that women who are considered sluts are, being shamed.  Seems pretty intuitive right?  Well this depends on your definition of the word slut.  Jenna Marbles is infamous for the videos she creates on Youtube.  Well one day Ms. Marbles made a video that struck the interest of Laci Green, causing her to make a video of her own.

In short Jenna made a video describing behavior that she believes “sluts” partake in, while Laci made a video arguing that if men do not respect sluts, they don’t respect women.  At this point you may be wondering, what exactly is your stance Nina?  And in short, I don’t agree with either of these people.  Although they both argue their points pretty well, some of what they each say is hard to chew.

Let’s start with Lacy.  She argues that a women should be respected because she is a woman, her actions are not a part of this equation.  I’m sorry, but I’ve never followed this logic.  As far as I’m concerned just because someone is older than me, or just because someone is a particular gender, does not mean they deserve my respect.  In general, I believe it’s a pretty good idea to simply respect people or give people the benefit of the doubt.  But if their actions do not warrant respect, why should we show respect?

With the same intuition, if someone does not respect themselves, why should I respect them?  If you go into a house, steal something and leave, what are you?  A thief.  And if you dress provocatively and sleep around, what can you expect to be called?  A slut.  Laci starts to go into this whole idea that the idea of being a virgin is too important to society.  Essentially if you are not a Virgin, you are not worthy.  I was so surprised because as someone who chose to take a vow of abstinence, I feel like the contrary is also true.  Being a virgin in this day and age is really hard.  Who’s right?  As odd as it may sound, I think we’re both right in some regards.  A lot of people look at virgins as though they are mythological creatures, literally.  I remember hearing that virgins who are hot are considered unicorns!  There was even a post from Reddit about this, and although the language is questionable, the message is good.

What does the bible have to say about all of this?

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 ESV / 11 helpful votes

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” …

It essentially believes in the sanctity of preserving yourself before marriage.  From a religious perspective, having sex before marriage is not acceptable.  So if this is true, does this mean women should be called sluts?  I know that this is a controversial opinion but, if the shoe fits?  I think it’s wrong when a word like slut is thrown around and used to classify an entire class of women.  But if someone  is acting in a way that warrants being called a slut, how can you be angry if she is called that?  I personally would never call a woman a slut, but I don’t know if I can expect this behavior from everyone else around me.

I remember this girl once asked openly, why should Christians be virgins?  Is it something necessary today in the age of birth control and contraceptives.  The way I think about it, when you have sex with someone just as the bible preaches, you become one with them.  Can you imagine how painful it would be to become one with someone only to break up with them a month of two later?  When you are married you have made a commitment honorable before God.  When you become one, you are supposed to stay as one.

I can agree with Laci about the fact that the word slut shouldn’t be thrown around.  I can also agree with Jenna about that fact that certain actions warrant being called a slut.  But at the end of the day whether or not you are a virgin is your decision.  (in almost all cases)  It’s your decision to accept whether or not having your virginity is a good thing or a bad thing.  Because there will always be people who call girls sluts for no reason.  When that happens you need to be sure of who you are regardless of what other people think.  But then again, that’s just my opinion.

Making time for God

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Quiet Time, oh how I had hated quiet time so very much when I first started doing it.  For those of you who are unfamiliar as to what quiet time is, it’s basically time you spend alone with God.  As an extrovert the idea of spending an entire hour of my day alone praying and reading the bible felt like complete torture.

I love being a part of group discussions, being around people and sharing ideas- but being alone?  No, thank you.  Because being alone means spending time with me and God.  Just the two of us together with nothing else to really distract me from his presence.  All of a sudden those early mornings I would dedicate to God would be interrupted because my bed looked extra comfy.

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It wasn’t until I listened to a Francis Chan Sermon earlier a few days ago that it dawned on me why I hated quiet time so very much.  Quiet time requires me to spend time with God alone and God sees right through me.  I can very well fool everyone I come in contact with on a daily basis; I can even fool myself.  But the one person who sees right through me is God.

That’s so intimidating!  The entire creator of the universe wants to spend time with us!  He knows our innermost thoughts and can see right through every word that we speak.  I remember a friend of mine asked me when was the last time I spent just immersed in God’s presence; I had no good answer to give.  The problem lies in the fact that at the end of the day I didn’t want to spend time in God’s presence.  I wasn’t hungering after him in a way that made me want to spend time with him.

I remember back when I was younger I would spend time in church and our pastor would tell us how important it was to read the bible daily.  My parents sounded like a broken rec93871973452541836_XQzdnpvm_c was ridiculous.  I lacked a personal relationship with God and the extent of my relationship to my father lasted for 3 hours on Sunday mornings.

It was because I didn’t really want to know God that I failed to realize the importance in pursuing him and spending time with him.  The thing is that when we start really developing meaningful relationships with people- we want to spend time with them.  It’s not a chore and it shouldn’t feel like work.  When you like being around someone, you will make time for him or her.  Why can’t the same go for our relationship with God?

When I think about quiet time the first bible character that comes to mind is Daniel.  For those of you who may not know why Daniel was, he was a bad a$$!  When he was in the king’s presence and expected to eat the King’s food- he didn’t.  He only ate things that were pleasing to God and he was actually healthier and plumper than everyone else around him.  It’s kind of funny that being “plump” was seen as such a positive back then!

But back on topic, I want to specifically look at Daniel in the lion’s den though.  A decree was published saying that no one would be allowed to pray to anyone other than the king.  But, how did Daniel, someone so passionate and in love with God respond to this?

In Daniel 6:10 it reads, “…when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

He didn’t stop praying to God just because other people told him that he was not allowed to.  In fact he prayed with his window opened, because he was unashamed of his beliefs.  He knew his relationship with God and he knew that God was much more powerful than the King who told him not to pray.  What I find so funny and even a little bit sad is the fact that if this had happened to me today, I probably wouldn’t have even notice the decree at first.  Sometimes I don’t pray when I am encouraged, how I can pray knowing that I will be persecuted for doing so?

We need to become the Daniels of our generation.  We need to be so passionate and in love with God that we are confident of him and what we believe in.   And the only way we can achieve this is by making time daily for God in our lives.

The awkward moment when you realize you had it all wrong

I grew up in a Christian family, in a Christian household being taught how to be a good Christian.  The thing is the majority of my life was spent looking through this pin hole thinking I was seeing everything, but in reality I only saw this tiny distorted section of the whole picture.  I saw my family and their devotion to God.  I saw my church friends give everything and dedicating their lives to God.  I was baptized with people I’ve known my entire life.  And when I accepted God for the first time my closest friends and family were with me the entire time.

I outreached on campus because I was told to do it.  I spoke about God when someone asked me about God.  I was too busy living my life looking through this tiny hole where everyone I loved would be fine.  And those who didn’t accept God were put to the back of my mind.  I stuffed them there not wanting to imagine eternity without them.

Today I visited a Hindu temple for an anthropology project, I wanted to learn about an aspect of my culture I never experienced.  Growing up as  christian as well as Indian the majority of people I met in passing assumed I was Hindu, unaware that I knew little to nothing about Hinduism.  What happened instead was this tiny hole through which I saw everything was broken open and my heart literally ached.  I left the temple and I sobbed.  Because if everything I was ever taught and believed was true then I would not meet everyone from that temple again one day in heaven.  I just wouldn’t.

I wasn’t used to thinking like that.

My entire life my purpose was to be a good student, to be a supportive friend, to be a decent person.  But as I continued to live my life looking through this tiny hole I was blinded to everything outside of my view.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to learn about an organization called, “The Price of Life” through”One cry”, it was there that I learned the first way I was blind.  Today I learned the second way.  First I was blind to the suffering of people who were sold into prostitution.  I was blind to the suffering of people around me in my life imaging pain was entity of my own.  That only I went through hardships.  I was blinded by my selfishness.  Conceding to myself that everyone else had it figured out and that everyone looked at all times as they appeared on the surface.

No one has it figured it.  But everyone is so keen and so used to hiding that a mirage of perfection is easy to portray.

I realized today that I had it all wrong because yesterday I prayed that God would break my heart for those who didn’t know him.  But as he did this very thing I wanted to beg him to stop.  My idea of Christianity was asking things from God hoping he would not hear me.  That was how things worked looking through this tiny hole.  The hole was narrow and binding and… even inaccurate but this hole was comfortable.  Everything I saw through it fit into what I wanted Christianity to really be, not what it actually is.

I’m writing this post right now because I feel like there most be other people out there like me.  People who have been living their entire lives looking through this tiny hole thinking they have it all figured it.  The thing is we don’t have it figured out, not even a little bit.  God doesn’t call us to live our lives blindly.  He is the light that shines in our darkness, he calls us to be free from all bondage.

We are called to love, to serve and to be uncomfortable.  Today was the day I realized what this actually meant for the very first time.

What does it mean to have the mind of Christ?

Hello everyone!  I can’t believe its already September 26th, I swear I try to keep these blog posts weekly but time flies!    I can’t believe one week has already passed since the last time I made a post.  But, lets stay on topic:  The Mind of Christ.  This was my topic for High Teens Speech, I do these yearly competitions in which I am required to prepare a speech in 10 minutes and then deliver it within a 5-minute period.  Needless to say, it can be VERY stressful.  My age group is High Teens so I compete against everyone in my age group.

This year our topic was the mind of Christ and I was so happy because earlier in the day I messed up my essay on Stewardship, a topic I thought meant being a servant of God but actually meant using your resources fully.  Obviously I was kind of off.

Being honest if I had not wrote an entire essay about the nature of God being that of a servant, I would not have spoken about this during my speech.  When I first thought about the very nature of God I thought of purity.  I would think about the God was sees our sins and is disgusted.  I would have never once thought about Jesus who went and washed his disciples feet as we can see in John 13: 8:

“ ‘No’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you will have no part with me.’”

This is the God we serve, who took on the very nature of man and came to earth to serve others.  How humbling is this?

We had a bible study with a few people from my InterVarsity chapter (Christian fellowship on campus) and we looked into the story of Stephen which is told from Acts 6:8-8:2, or at least that was the portion we looked at together.  I couldn’t help but think of how humble Stephen was through everything- it was never about him.

I couldn’t get a bible verse out of mind so we spent some time trying to find it and it was actually John 3:30 which reads:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

THIS is the relationship that we have with God.  One in which we are made smaller and smaller because we want God to be glorified rather than ourselves.

When I look at my life and everything I do, it is because I want recognition, I want to be acknowledged.  But this wasn’t the way we were meant to be.  We are created to be servants before God, laying everything we have down before his feet.  Laying our needs, our desires, our wants, everything.

And it’s so scary to think that maybe what we want from our lives does not align with what God wants from us.  But this is something we must accept whole heartily.  I don’t want to be Stephen who was stoned to death; I don’t want that for myself or for my life.  But if God wants this from me I must accept this.  Accepting this is scary and hard, but we must also know how important it is to place everything into God’s hands.  He knows us, he knows us so well and he knows what we need and what is best for us.