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.

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the Big Event: Sophomore year

For those of you who have never heard of “Big Event” its basically a yearly InterVarsity retreat in which college students have the opportunity to register for different tracks to learn about God with people from different colleges in small groups.  Small groups are normally…small groups of people, I know who would have thought that’s what it meant?  Please bear with me as I write this post, I realize that for those of you who have never heard of Big Event everything I’m saying will sound really odd to you.

Well this was my second year in InterVarsity and because I got involved from the get go, it was my second time at Big Event.  The previous year I had the opportunity to go to both Big Event and Basielia (InterVarsity’s second retreat which is longer and holds less schools).  Before going I remember everyone telling me I would love it so much that I would have so much fun and that it would change everything.  In all honesty leaving both Big Event and Basielia my freshman year I definitely did change a lot but those retreats felt bland for me.  I was watching everyone else doing all these amazing things and even though I did benefit, I wasn’t enjoying things on the same level as other people.  In fact there were times during Baseila that I just felt sad and confused because I wasn’t sure why I was feeling the way I felt.  I never shared this with anyone in my chapter because I didn’t want to be the person to bring other people down.  So I plastered a smile on my face and focused on everything that was actually good that was going in during the retreat.

My mentality was so off for those two retreats.  I literally walked into Big Event knowing everything everyone had said about it in the past and felt entitled to an amazing experience because I payed money.  I wasn’t excited and I expected other people to make me excited.  It was because I knew something was wrong that I refused to approach Big Event this year the same way I approached Big Event all other times in the past.

Before registering for Big Event I was asked along with some other people in my chapter to register for the leadership track.  That was something I really didn’t want to do, I wish I could explain just how much I didn’t want to do it.  In fact I guess I can explain it to you right now.  Registering for that track scared me and intimidated me because I didn’t feel as though I was good enough for it.  So I told my exec team I would register for it and purposely waited until the track was closed to beg my mom for permission to register for Big Event.  I had technically asked her back when leadership was open but because I didn’t want to go for that track I asked in a way that I knew she wouldn’t be happy or say yes.  It was only when I really needed to register that she said yes.  And by then I looked at the mess I made for myself and was actually kind of sad but at the same time incredibly happy.  Happy because I made a promise in my mind that I would get the most out of my track this year.  The track I registered for was Transformation or Foundations and mistakenly registering for it may have been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons.

Growing up in church I felt as though I knew God because I gave him my 3 hours once a week.  I had my idea in my head of what God was to me and I was satisfied putting him into a box.  For so long I felt as though I was trying to build a roof to this house while my foundations were crumbling beneath me.  I needed to be sure that I knew exactly who the God I was serving actually was.   Being honest with you again, I had it all so wrong.

During my retreat I realized that I wasn’t the only person who felt the same way about retreats in the past.  I wasn’t the only person who felt like I was really missing something important.  But somehow it took me going to Baseilia and feeling so sad to know that I couldn’t keep going on my walk with God the same way I had always done so.  I really needed to change the way I approached God in my life and I needed to learn to put him first.  I realized that if I had opened up earlier I would have saved so much heartache and even sympathized and grown with someone else who was going through what I was going through.  We eventually did get to sympathize with one another but only at this year’s Big Event!  Funny how things work out right?

I was also struggling with vulnerability.  Most of the time I feel like people are afraid to open up and that this is why they cannot grow.  My problem was that I felt as though I was being too vulnerable with too many people.  I grew up in a house where my mom would sit down with me everyday and ask me to open up to her about my feelings, that was the way I was raised to act.  And I felt like there was something wrong with me because it seemed like no one else felt the same way about opening up as me.  What I realized for myself this was past weekend was that I needed to be vulnerable.  I really needed to be open and honest about my feelings with the people in my life.  Because I’d rather have a bunch of people know this mangled, messed up and growing mess of a person that I am that is not perfect than to have a bunch of people know me on such a superficial level that they don’t actually know who I am.  But that’s just me.  Maybe I’ll change my mind about this 10 years from now but if I ever did I would need to stop blogging.  I would need to stop blogging because my soul is kind of sprawled out on all of these posts that literally anyone could pick up and read.  I’m okay with that though.  Because I know I am not the only person who feels the way that I feel.

Big Event this year was amazing.  It was absolutely amazing and so much more than I thought it would be.  But it also wasn’t easy.  I left Big Event feeling great but also knowing that the real work starts now with my relationship with God and even my relationships with people. I realized somehow that I didn’t understand what it meant to love people the way God loves us, or even how to love God the way he loves me.  I know that I am so flawed and I know that I have so much to learn but now I am ready to learn more about God than ever before.

 

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.

God centered life

 

I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  My school work, friends, future, family, and everything in between.  And when I was so busy thinking about everything going on in my life, I failed to remember God.

It’s funny isn’t it?  No, it’s not.  It’s a little bit sad.

For the entirety of my life I have been a “christian” but I fear I’ve been a Christian in name alone.  I go to church, I follow my commandments but I fail to give God all the glory and honor he deserves.  And what amazes me is that God see this girl who puts him last many times, who forgets him..  Somehow he still deems me worthy of his forgiveness, his love, his mercy.  There is no one in the entire world who would be so gracious, but my God.

Today I want to change the way I live my life.  I want to say I am a Christian and be so grateful to know the truth.   Because I am blessed by the fact that my grandfather was a believer and his before him.  Their prayers still watch over me and cover me.

But their salvation is not enough to reach me, I need to make a decision to really and actually put God first.

So what does it look like when someone leads a God centered life?

Well everything else that goes on daily simply pales in comparison.  You don’t read your bible because you have a daily quota, you read your bible because you just want to.  You get lost in praying to God and wonder how time could slip so quickly away.  And you change, 100% you change everything about yourself.  Not because you make this conscious effort to change.  But because you are so in love with God and so surrounded by him in every aspect that he influences every action you make.

When we choose to follow God and put him first everything else just falls into place.  Philippians 4:13 reads “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”, and we can.  That’s the amazing thing about God.  There are literally no limits to what you are capable above, and God will direct in the path meant for you.

I want to live like that.

So in love with God that my life can be a testimony to him and that I can shine because of the light and joy he places into my life.

Mark 12:30 reads, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That’s no joke.  That means something.  Today for the first time I will try to understand what exactly that means.

Practicing what you preach

I’m a prayer group leader at my InterVarsity chapter and just now I have been handed a figurative smack in the face.  I had a really dull moment and realized that I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching.  Not just that, I wasn’t even close to where I was saying others should be in their walks with christ.  And I felt like such a hypocrite.  I think that when I took up this position I imagined I would have to be perfect, infallible, and be at this peak with my walk with God.  But I started writing this post right before my prayer group this past thursday.  I ended up sharing how I was feeling and realized I didn’t have to be perfect.  I was met by so much support from people who said they have all been where I felt like I was at the moment.

Earlier this week as a team (small group team) we looked at the passage in which Jesus calms the storm.  What I found so ironic was the fact that here I was stressing and worrying about my own problems and forgetting what I had just learned.  One of my team members pointed it out to another member but someone it just hit me so hard.  How could I miss out on such an amazing message?

In this passage the disciples almost accuse Jesus crying out “Teacher don’t you care if we drown” when they are met by this massive storm that almost overfills the boat.  The funny thing is Jesus was sleeping on a CUSHION right before.  And before they could say anything else Jesus pulls a Chuck Norris move and calms the sea just by speaking.

How many times have we felt like that before in our life?  Like the waters are overwhelming and we can’t stay afloat any longer?  But the thing is God was always in control from the start.  He has always been in control, will be in control and is in control right now.  We never have to worry.  For the opposite of love is not hate but fear because perfect love casts out al fear.  We create this divide between us and God when we allow ourselves to be afraid like this.  We are created to do so much more and be so much more in our lives.

I wrote this post feeling like a hypocrite but I realize now that I am just growing.  I am not at a “peak” with my relationship with God, you cannot reach a peak and you can always know more and grow closer.  I want to draw closer now and remember everything I learn.  Because Jesus calms the storm and he can calm your storm too.  Just give him full control.

Love is no joke

I’ve heard the word love thrown around so carelessly far too often.  But I doubt that this would be the case if we started to realize what it actually meant to love, and what the definition of love actually means.  I just finished watching a video on YouTube from the “Desiring God” Conference featuring Francis Chan.

He spoke about the love that Christ has for us, this kind of love that is sacrificial.  I couldn’t help but think that most of the time when I see this so called thing called “love”, it’s so selfish.  We think we’re in love with someone and suddenly our need and desire to be with them outweighs their wants.  We are selfish.

But the love of God isn’t supposed to be like that, not at all.  The love of God places a burden on our hearts where we genuinely care about the people around us.  Not for social networking or for the ways in which they can benefit us, but just because we love.
1 Corinthians 13 teaches of the importance of love.  Can we really understand that without love we are nothing?  That or acts and our works amount to nothing.

So when I see the word love thrown around, or when a friend causally says that they love me.  I think, do they know what it really means to love?  Do they know how great it is to truly love like Christ loves?  And how much you sacrifice in loving in this capacity?  It is nothing to laugh about and I pray they take it seriously.  Because I didn’t.  I thought love was just feeling or a liking towards someone.

No, love is sacrifice and when you look at the father it is perfectly exemplified through his blood.  That’s what it means to love.

Yet another thing we need to be aware of is the meaning of the opposite of love.  I realized it first from a video from BlimeyCow on Youtube.  The opposite of love is not hate.  Nor is it indifference.  The opposite of love is fear.  Fear is crippling, fear is limiting and fear is… well kinda scary.  But perfect love casts out ALL fear.

I want to learn what it actually means to love in my life.  I want to learn what it means to have a burden for the people around me.  To weep for their salvation and love in a way so selflessly.

To this day I think of something my friend told me when we were about to lead a GIG together (Groups Investigating God, small group for nonbelievers or different faiths to come together and learn about God).  She told me that I had to love the people in our GIG,and I replied by saying “oh yeah, I’ll care about them”, and I was so shocked by the way she responded, “No you have to love them, really love them.”  I felt so touched by this kind of love that loves without requirements or quotas.  The kind of love of Christ.

Please, love.  love knowing the severity of this action, love sincerely and fully, as I pray to learn how to love.

You’ll never be anyone but yourself, and that’s amazing.

I felt the sudden need to write about this and considering that its 1 in the morning and I doubt I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon, why not write?

I’m reading a book about an Indian girl who grows up in a middle class mostly white suburban neighborhood and struggles to blend in.  In example, the life of Nina as well as the protagonist in the novel Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier.  I don’t want to really ruin anything for those of you who want to read it, but I will tell you that the protagonist is not happy with herself.

She’s so desperate to be anything but herself that she blends in more and more.  I couldn’t help but think, “How sad is that?”  Instead of embracing what makes us unique as human beings we long just to blend in.

It reminded me of something I struggled to realize when first entering college but now feel so happy to know.  I’ll never be anyone else except who I am, and that is amazing.  It’s an amazing feeling to accept yourself for who you and understand that not everyone will find you endearing.  And that its okay not to like doing things that other people enjoy doing.

I remember thinking beauty was something black and white.  Either you are born with a pretty face or you’re not.  But that’s not true, not even in the slightest.  A pretty face means you are pretty but being beautiful means being beautiful inside and out.  Finding that in a person is hard to do.

Psalms 139:13-14 reads

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”

You are created the way that you are created for a reason, never doubt that, even for a second.  Because more than developing piss poor self esteem and self worth, you are demeaning God’s work.  God created you to be you for a reason.

So I find myself tempted to alter myself and to fit a mold that will blend in with everything else.  But God created me to be different.  I will never stop loving to take pictures to capture random moments, or even fight for women’s equality in seemingly stupid ways.  It’s who I am.

And I never want to be anyone but myself, because I am amazing.