Death of Selfishness

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Be ready for this week’s video! Every Monday by 6pm for the next 11 weeks.

Open letter to those still in the Indian Church

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There are two types of people this blog post is for. First, the older generation within the Malayalee (Indian) church who like myself (as a teacher in a different culture than my own) often lack awareness of cultural differences or the desires of the younger generation to express themselves differently and creatively. Next, the younger generation who needs to go back to God and his words first as a means to better serve our churches.

For Pentecostals (particular branch of Christianity), Acts 2 is a pivotal piece of scripture. The chapter details what happens when the holy spirit comes at Pentecost. It’s some crazy stuff. Vs 2 explains, “Suddenly a sounds like blowing of a violent wind came from heaven.” Then “tongues of fire” came and “all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” I remember my brother once pointed out to me that when people are praying in tongues, to the bystander they don’t look happy! People are yelling, crying and praising. It looks insane if you don’t understand what’s happening. And that’s touched upon. In fact people made fun of them thinking they had too much wine.

So now that epic scene has been painted- now imagine my horror when experiencing something very different at a conference this past weekend.

Carefully pick speakers and always think of the Vision

I encountered a book, “For White Folks who teach in the hood…and the rest of ya’ll too” and was captivated as a teacher but also as someone who loves psychology and trying to understand people. I just came back from a region meeting for Indians who are in ‘church of God’ pentecostal churches. Being honest, the Sunday service was dead. In Emdin’s book he refers to Pentecostal pedagogy as a model for teachers. But as I watched a Pentecostal preacher elicit call and reponse to no avail, my heart broke. This pastor poured his heart out to the audience and there we were- dead, as was I as a part of said audience. I felt uncomfortable praising loudly because everyone could hear me. I wanted to be back in my church where my praises mixed with the congregation in a beautiful melody. Some of my church friends had to remind me that the “norm” in my church isn’t the norm everywhere. In fact, today the main speaker reminded the audience that when he was young the meetings were all in Malayalam and the only portion of the message in English was one song. We’ve come a long way. Many people left my church leaving the current youth with a much stronger voice. We used to always threaten that we would leave but when some people actually did, everything was different. People weren’t leaving after marriage or as older adults, they left as college students and young adults. As a result, my service is entirely in English, the speaker speaks English and everything is catered to me, not perfectly, but our pastor tries. He advocates for our youth and makes a lot of mistakes but still sacrifices so much for the younger generation. However, despite my appreciation of my church, this past weekend wasn’t my first “dead” service at a larger gathering of malayalee youth.

Maybe it was that the call and response method isn’t enough? He would call out Amen only to hear faint amens respond back. Or perhaps it was because he asked men of God to imagine how God would use them to speak and women of God to dream of being pastor’s wives. Heck, maybe it was because he was a 60 year old southern white man speaking to a group of young 13–30 year olds. Whatever the reason, the room was hard to work with and I found myself saddened because it was a long time since I attended a meeting like this. I’m reminded of the book I referenced earlier, “For White Folks who teach in the hood…and the rest of ya’ll too” It’s really hard for white teachers, or even suburban minorities to come into the hood and expect to understand our kids, their music, clothing, food and so on. The same holds for my parent’s generation. Our worship sounds different, our idea of church clothing looks different, we prefer Amerian food compared to rice and chicken- we are different. So when you transplant someone unaware of our differences, it will be hard, as it is hard in teaching. But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just as a teacher in the “hood” I need to be aware, but my students can still learn from me. And in our churches we are all still unified under Christ, we just need to be aware of the needs of our youth.

The scene I encountered this past weekend was not the scene of holy spirit coming to Pentecost, it wasn’t anything close. In college I got involved with a group called InterVarsity Christian fellowship and at our region gatherings it was a dance party- literally! We would go twice a year and the room would be packed and my worship with inaudible in the room. I could sing and praise in such freedom. The same thing happened at our conferences once every three years called “Urbana”. I felt such a freedom and strength in a room surrounded by fellow believers. The enthusiasm I once felt is drastically contrasted with the overall feeling from the meeting I attended recently. It felt like the preacher was pleading with the audience to offer something to God and we stood their limp and lifeless.

Go Back to the Basics.

The same message would have been very different for the older generation’s audience. Something was missing and I don’t believe it’s as simple as I would like to make it. I would like to just blame the older generation for not be culturally relevant, which they weren’t. But I know it goes deeper than that. What was the difference between the men who were praising on Pentecost and those who stood and laughed assuming they were drunk on wine? Well Peter addressed the mockers , “These men are not drunk as you suppose.” and explained that God had poured out his spirit on the people as he promised. Peter essential threw down the gospel for these people detailing how the world was made perfect, but then sin came in and created a division between Christ and us. Jesus was then sent as the bridge between that division created by sin. “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose…But God raised him from the dead.” Peter points to the first thing we need to do.

Ultimately, so many people fall between the cracks and need to be reminded once again what Jesus sacrificed for us and how much he loves us.

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Looking back at scripture we see how these people respond, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart.” Do you know what that feels like? Even reading those words pierces my heart. This generation needed Peter to remind them that they needed to, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So when I look at my generation, I see myself. A broken person who as a senior in highschool drifted so far from God that I needed to hear what Christ had done for me once again. I was that person who willingly, proudly stood limp feeling power in denying my praises. I was afraid and stupid as the fool who denies God.

Now 5 years later I am a very different person. But I still needed someone like Peter to remind me of what Christ had done for me and pierce my heart.

Yes, our meetings should be culturally relevant. And a preacher shouldn’t have to beg an entire audience to praise God. But looking at God’s word the answer to those on the sidelines who mocked was not anger or judgment but God’s word spoken through Peter explaining all that Christ has done. I believe our generation needs Peters with the ability to stop and minister to our youth.

Sari Sunday- August 23, 2015

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As much as I love dressing up and having my picture taken, I love taking pictures of others even more. This week the beautiful Liz is featured. She is wearing a sari from north India that we reworked with some of my mom’s sari wrapping magic. I think I might do a post explaining how to wrap a Sari like this. Comment down below if you’d like that!

As always, have a great Sunday! 🙂

The reason I waited so long to write this post.

This is a little bit of an explanation post, to explain why lately I’ve been so MIA and why for the first time in a while I think this blog is a little bit dead.  I had the amazing oppurtunity to go on a mission trip to Guyana from August 16-23rd and ever since then I’ve been too afraid to make a blog post.  I find it so funny because up until this point I had written all my other posts in hopes of reviving my blog so I would have people excited to learn about my trip.

But now that I have actually gone to Guyana I’m so afraid of actually writing a post because I want to describe my experience and give it justice.  I even wrote out almost a full post about Guyana only to accidentally close the tab.  That post didn’t really matter much though, I was just forcing myself to write.  The thing is right now I think I’m reading to write this post.  Or I really hope that I am ready to write this post.  One can only hope right?

Okay.  First, why Guyana?

I was thinking about this question for a long time recently.  Guyana is not my home country, India is my mother land.  But lately I’ve been learning a lot about Guyana and more so about Guyanese culture and I was amazed by it.  I found it so odd that I could go here and feel like the people living in Guyana were just like me yet completely different at the exact same time.  I could go into what I’ve learned as of now about Guyanese culture but I’ll wait for another day to write about that.

So I was learning about Guyana and then my mom comes to me and tells me she’s going on a trip to Guyana.  I asked her if I could go expecting her to say no, and she did.  But shortly after she said that ticket prices dropped and that she could now take me with her.  I went thinking I would be the only 19 year old going in a group of 30+ pastors.  But what ended up happening was a group of 4 of us “younger” folk signed up and we had the perfect amount of people to run a VBS and lead worship in Guyana.

From the get go we were told we were in Guyana for missions work and not for vacation.  That was still a really weird principle for me because Guyana felt like India to me and all the times I’ve been to India in the past, I’ve been on vacation.  We were definitely not slumming it though.  We had the opportunity to eat Guyanese or Guyanese “chinese” food every single meal of our stay and I loved it.

It’s funny because when all four of us young adults were asked what part of Guyana we disliked the most it was always the mosquitos.  The mosquitos and bugs just attacking you out of nowhere while you’re attempting to sing on stage.

That’s another thing about Guyana, before going there I had this high resistance to singing in public.  I didn’t want to sing anymore.  But when I went there it wasn’t about me anymore, they needed singers and I could sing.  End of story.  It reminds me of this post I meant to write before leaving for Guyana but was yet again too afraid to write.

God doesn’t call us because we are qualified, he qualifies the called.  God wasn’t asking me to have the voice of an angel or amazing presentation skills.  He asked me to be willing to go and speak for him when the opportunity arose and he asked me to not be afraid to sing his praises.

And this kind of leads me to the close of this post,  life post Guyana.  I realize that there are so many things I have yet to tell all of you about Guyana but I feel like whenever I tell someone something about my mission trip there, I’m losing a piece of it for myself.  That sounds really selfish but don’t worry I will share it all one day.  But if I want to get at least one post up, I need to know I’m still keeping pieces of the story for myself.

So, what now?  What happens to life after leaving Guyana?

Life after leaving Guyana was actually not hard to transition into, yet really hard at the same time.  I found myself not even really sure of what to do with myself entirely.  On the way to the airport back home to America everyone was saying how they would miss Guyana so much but I was too afraid to miss people.  I told the people around me to stop because they wouldn’t really miss them.  They might miss those around them for a little snippet of time, but that’s all.

This was yet another thing that I was wrestling with and its something I’ve only recently come to terms with.  I live in the city and meet new people everyday that I will never see again.  And this put a toll on me emotionally because I grew up in a small elementary school and a relatively small high school.  It hurt too much to miss all these people around me.  I told myself to stop missing people to feel better, but how could I really?  I was losing my empathy and love for the lost by marginalizing those around me.

As of right now I’m still struggling and dealing with what my life really is post Guyana.  What is my purpose anymore?  And do I leave all the problems I saw in Guyana and default that I’m just a kid too young to help.  I don’t think I can do that.

This is all for now.

Day 17: Something you’re looking forward to (This summer)

As I write this post I can think of so many things I am not looking forward to!  I need to study for my calculus exam, take my actual calculus exam, work hard and take my final!  But with all of that in mind, there are still so many things I actually am looking forward to do and below is a list of a few:

1.  Church Retreat

It’s going to  be at the retreat center we always used to have it and I hope it’s as good as I had always remembered it being!

2.  Finishing my summer class

I’m REALLY hoping I don’t have to retake this class, but regardless finishing this class and REALLY starting summer will be a treat with retreat starting the same day in the afternoon.

3.  Sophomore Hang out

It’s bound to happen some time this summer and I miss all my sophomore friends!

4.  Guyana

I meant to announce this later, but I’ll be going to Guyana for a mission trip!  (More on this later)

5.  Starting School Again

I actually like school!  And as happy as I am to end it, I love the beginning of school too!

6.  BIG Production meeting

The entire team for The Ticket is meeting together again and this excites me!

7.  Apologetic Lesson

My Sunday school class is learning about different religions and at the end we learn some christian apologetic.  I’ve always been curious about these things.

 

Focus and dedication- 10/365

This photo is by gBobly from deviantart.com

Went bowling this evening and figured it could be turned into a fun opportunity to get some nice shots, I got to play when it was my turn to bowl and play when it wasn’t =P

I’ll tell you what, I’m glad he was using an orange one, it wouldn’t have been quite the same with a different colour

I was thinking about what to write about today [my latest posts have been pretty lame :/], and had a hard time thinking of anything.  SO I cheated , well kinda sorta cheated, I have this book entitled God’s Little Devotional Journal for TEENS.   AND the title for today was focus and dedication and I found it kind of ironic because that is EXACTLY what I need in my own life.

I had written about how I KNEW God would help me with SATS and I would do so much better than ever before, but then I realized I lacked all focus and dedication.  How can I expect God to work wonders in me, when I can’t even focus myself and dedicate?

I have always defined myself as an intellectual type of person, the kind who would cry when she got a B on her report card, who gave everything [well I’m not the most focused so A LOT] into my school work.  But sports? ha, that was what I would call a sick joke. I accepted early on that i was just NOT a sporty person, I failed at every sport i tried at first.  You name it, I failed at it!

Tennis, Badminton, Basketball, Soccer, Volley ball, and the list goes on and on.

But something I learned at my church retreat is that part of the reason I was so bad was because in the past I never tried.  It didn’t come easy to me like other things, it didn’t seem as much fun as reading or writing [I’m a geek who hates when people don’t try reading!  ITS SO GOOD!]

I was playing a game of volley ball and FAILING…really badly, when I found out I wasn’t even positioning my hands the right way.  Sure I was still…pretty bad, but I had never tried before and because of that I didn’t even know the basics and because of THAT I was doing even worse that I would have should I have tried when I was first introduced to the sport.

A story was included in the book and the very last paragraph read:

You may feel that you lack some of the natural physical or intellectual tools to excel in your area of interest.  But if you are willing to focus on the details that lead to excellence, you could be a big hit in your chosen area!

I may not be the next Kobe Bryan [spelling? wow I’m so bad at this haha] but I CAN TRY!  Right now I’m addicted to running!  I may not be so good at it, but everyday I plan to build my endurance!

A quote included in the article touched me as well “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

HOW TRUE IS THAT? [wow I sound angry…]

Galatians 6:7 [also included in the book, I know I should find my own verses!]

Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.


See you tommrow!

Nina

4/365- That which does not kill me only makes me stronger

So its 12:06 right now, and I did my last post 2 hours ago, but its technically a brand old new day.

I remember when I fell in love with the saying:

“That which does not kill me only makes me stronger.” [I feel like I having the phrasing wrong?]

That was until I watched an episode of Modern family and Manny [the young latina boy in this family who I have grown to adore], commented on the ridiculous nature of the quote.  So if I’m in a hospital after a horrible accident and I’m weaker but still alive, how exactly does that make me stronger?

Yeah.

WELL, I agreed with young Manny for a very long time.  That was until I looked back on some of the mistakes in my life.  There is one mistake that always sticks out to me and had happened a few years ago, but it still haunts.  I poked my head where I REALLY shouldn’t have.

For so long I wished I could back in time and just stop myself, just knock some self into myself and say “Nina don’t be an idiot, some things are NOT worth fighting for, and it’s not your business!”  I thought of how easy, how amazing, how much better my life would be if this event had never occurred, and then I realized how horrible my life may have become as well.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this one event changed me and made me better.  It made me more mature, more conscious, more loving and closer to God.  I would like to think I’m not the same person I was the end of my freshman year of high school but who’s to say where I would be without my failures.

For a large part of my life I felt like a failure.  I remember beginning of sophomore year I was winning everything I competed in, and then, I lost.  I felt horrible, I felt like giving up, but somehow I think I’ve learned more from my failures than my successes.

When I somehow [really have no idea how] placed in a speaking competition I thought I did horrible in, I was complacent.  Sure it was nice to get a huge trophy but did I grow?

Then I worked hard, and when I lost anyway- I couldn’t understand why I was failing, but because of my failure I tried again and became a better speaker because of it.

It’s so easy to be angry at God when things don’t seem to go the right way. When you try try and try and yet you still fail.  But those are the moments that shape us and make us into the people who are truly meant to be.

If you look in Isaiah 64:8:

Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

I truly believe that our God is shaping us, molding us and breaking us, but ONLY for his greater purpose.

I now believe that which does not kill me only makes me stronger is because I realize that it is during our trials and failures and troubles that we are shaped into what we are supposed to be.

I look forward to what I will some day become.

See you tommrow,

Nina

July 28th 2010

12:30

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