Monday, June 27, 2011

Ready to go in?

At a time, when millions of Christians around the world faithfully fast and earnestly pray, how sure are you of your intentions?

But has the stress of modern living jaded the significance of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior?

The comforting remembrance that God sent His only Son, to save humanity. To let Him suffer and die for the sins of all humanity.
2000 years ago, he traded sin and shame for hope and salvation. The Hope that we are never alone… Even when the world around us crumbles in anarchy.
Even when personal tragedies overwhelm us, and even when we are anguished at how God could abandon us, He is closest to us.

Growing up, my Dad was my role model. He was the perfect family man; devout Christian, an incredible father and a loving husband.
Several years ago, he lost a well fought battle against cancer. I couldn't stop grieving. I hadn't loved him enough. But he now lives in me. I know that he sees
me and understands me better. Never judging me. Never impatient with me. He is with me whenever I miss him. How much more our Lord Jesus who died for us, just so that He will be in us for eternity.

Death of a family member is a vacuum that can never be filled.
But because He died, You live.

In times of seemingly endless spate of political and economical turmoil, natural calamities and spiritual bankruptcy, our only hope is the hope and salvation that
Christ's death on the Cross and His resurrection has given us. Because Jesus conquered death, we know that we have chance to live again.
How exhilarating would it be if you heard that your loved one has risen? Yes, Jesus did.

At times when money, people and all that the world holds dear gives way under our feet, it is His promise of hope that never fails and salvation that never fades that we can hold on to. A promise to wipe away every sin, every tear, every hurt and every moment of pain. A promise that is rock solid and is guaranteed for eternity and beyond.

Are we the recipients of this hope?
Can we hope to be saved by His precious blood?

'If you confess with your mouth. "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that
God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes,
resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in
salvation.' Romans 10:9-10

Are you at a point in your life where if you are at Heaven's gate tonight, would
He take you in?

The Obituary of Agonizing Sexperts

Old people read Obituaries. I read Agony Aunt and Sexpert columns.
No, not because I am looking for answers to a potentially embarrassing problem down south, but because I simply love the way we are.

Sample this for size:

Question 1
"I am a 42-year-old married man. My assistant in office is 35 years old and is unmarried. Recently she told me that she is getting married soon. She is quite open with me and discusses things with ease. She expressed her inhibitions regarding having sex with her husband after marriage as she still is a virgin. She says she is not sure how it will go with her husband, as she still does not know him very closely. She expressed that it may not be a very pleasant experience because she does not know how it feels. Coming to the point – she says she wants to have sex with me before marriage to experience it, and feels this way she would be prepared better for it, mentally and physically. She is attractive, makes me fall for the opportunity but I am not too sure if it would be a great idea, though she says, we will not take it further after she gets married. I am not sure if that would be possible or honestly, is she trying to get me into any kind of trap. Please advice"

Question 2
"I guess there is something wrong with my girlfriend. She hates even mention of physical relationship/sex. She is 23 and I of the same age. We have been in a very emotional love relationship for 5 years now but still she is always uncomfortable whenever I talk about physical relationship. This often leaves me frustrated. How do I get her to enjoy this with me? She always replies that she would be okay with everything after marriage but I doubt that. Please suggest what to do.

Question 3
"I am a married guy with two kids. My wife is very cute and attractive and we have a perfect relationship. Our sexual life is perfectly fine. The problem that I am facing is that I don't get bored of having sex. I like having sex with my wife and so does she but my desires are growing day by day. I have to admit that even after marriage, I am sleeping with other girls and they love it too. I am confused should I stop it or keep it the way it is. I know I am cheating on my wife but I can't help it. I started having sex at a very early age, when I was 14. I like to watch a lot of porn movies. Please let me know if this is ok or am I a pervert?"

And the crown jewel of them all..
Question 4
"I am in mid 30s and maried for the last 7 years. My sexual desire went up by many folds after my daughter was born about five years back. But due to my husband's high profile job, he rarely gives me any time. He's on tour and we get sex maybe once in four to six months. This pushed me into grave depression. Because of his calousness about my problem, I wanted to divorce him. My brother-in-law and his wife knew about this well and they were very friendly to me. When they came to know about my decision, they tried to convince me not to do so. I had to ask them for sexual favour as an alternative. Realising my determination about divorce, they finally accepted me in their sexual life. For the last three years I am enjoying threesome with them almost every week. Recently, my brother-in-law took a new job which needs him to move to a faraway city. Though I am very happy about his new job and career, this also brought back memories of my old depression days and now I'm thinking of looking for a new partner as my husband is too busy with his career. I tried a lot to talk to him on this but he didn't give me enough time. He doesn't want to go to a counsellor either. I am now thinking of divorcing him. I know this will hurt my brother-in-law and his wife. But I cannot control my desire and I need someone to help me on this. Am I making any mistakes or am I too selfish?"

What strikes me is that we have a lot of promiscuity going around. Something that we only saw on Oprah and random Hollywood movies. Suddenly we seem to be sexually liberated and stifled at the same time.

Infact, many of the questions that appear on tabloids and dailies seem to be coming out of folks that have little or no sex ed. But what's more disturbing is how these so called sexperts answer/counsel many of these questions. Now, I've never written to one (and hope to God I don't) but I sometimes wonder how many of these so called letters are really from genuine readers with problems. Journalism, a fine line between stating the truth and exaggerating the imaginary, in India leaves much to be desired. How would you rate the sex ed of the girl asking the question below?

I'm 24 and single but recently went to a party wearing my brother's jeans. The jeans was very tight at the crouch. Would I get pregnant if my brother had sex while wearing the jeans? Would I get AIDS?

I know. 24, single, partying and wearing your brother's jeans?! You're an anomaly. But anyways, what puzzles me is how less our youngsters know about HIV and other STDs.

Sex education is vital. I don't know how many teachers would be comfortable taking up the subject with youngsters with raging hormones, but it could certainly save readers like me a ton of LOL moment when reading such queries.

Would you stick to expert advice that a psychologist give you on a face to face session? Fat chance. Precisely why I think many of those people who ask these questions only ask them to publicize it, anonymously. Much like why men would secretly record their girlfriend/wife/friends-with-benefits perform sexual acts while pixelizing their own face, but making sure that the lady's face is crystal clear. Men would want to gloat about their sexcapades, even if it is anonymous. Never mind that they might get caught. They will at least have their 15 MB of fame somewhere on the internet.

My argument tonight is that we need to make sex ed mandatory. Our teachers must be trained to disperse knowledge in a manner that would not titillate but educate.
My sex ad teacher (who was really our Math teacher) was voluptuous yet boring as hell. Many of the backbenchers nicknamed her Chicago Bulls, after the shape of the uterus and because of her hour glass figure. I wonder how many of them really learned anything from her classes. However all that I know of the human reproductive system is what my Dad taught me.
Just as we have systems in place that check and certify our knowledge about a science or a subject, we need to have high school teens and young adults made sure they understand the system.
After all, almost all of them are going to use it at some point of their lives.

But if you are one of those who didn't have/attend your sex ed class, well I would like to quote a class mate of mine at College as a case in point.
Every time, he used to see a girl's navel, he used to get uncomfortably aroused. In public. When I asked him to try and explain why he thought he deserved to get an erection, pat came his response: "Well, what am I supposed to do when a girl shows her pu**y". He firmly thought a girl's navel was where his 'joystick' went in.
How he later became matured enough to marry and father two kids is something I would not want to know now, but we definitely need some good education, folks.

Until then, keep those questions coming.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What do you need?

Part 5

A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Given a choice between the two, would you like your needs satisfied or your wants fulfilled?

What is  your greatest need?
A new car? New home? More money? Promotion? High paying Job / Profits from business? Lots of clothes?

If you find yourself nodding to any of these, don't be surprised. So did a billion others too. Strangely, not many people would actually prioritize God in their lists of needs.

In my concluding part of the five part Series on what Jesus Christ really wanted to tell us without telling us, I am going to explore how we can have a New Beginning in Him.

In the cloak of darkness, we are said, Nicodemus visited Jesus. Now, we all know how Jewish leaders hated Jesus. He was a rival that threatened their very existence. Convinced in some way that Jesus does hold the key to eternity and salvation, he appears to have come to meet him out of personal admiration of the divine authority that Jesus possessed. Curious as he was, he wanted Jesus to teach him the way to salvation. Cryptic in His answer, yet poignant, Jesus told him that he must be reborn to be able to see the Kingdom.

At a time when Pharisees are hard pressed to be critical of His teachings and His followers, Nicodemus was confused by His answer. To many Jews at that time and many people in today's society, being born in the 'right' family, is all that mattered. Too many Christians think that being born as a Christian and attending Masses are enough to reach salvation.
Just as Nicodemus figured that by the virtue of his physical birth and his religious status as the leader of Pharisees that he is destined for the kingdom of Heaven, too many Christians think by elaborate prayers and measured tithes, they've booked their 60x40 in the Kingdom of Heaven.

O you, of little faiths! How far from the truth are you?

Reading on, we can also picture the shock and disbelief in the face of Nicodemus as he is asked to do the impossible task of being reborn. Jesus explains how a person must be born of the water and the spirit to be considered eligible to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Perhaps Nicodemus came to Jesus with an agenda to trap Him or to prove Him wrong. Yet maybe, he might have come with a need to be validated.
But Jesus's answer stumps him. Nicodemus struggles with the answers but goes back a changed person. From a haughty and proud Pharisee, he becomes a humble believer.

To all who come to Jesus, there is good news.
The Bible is replete with stories of people who has a need. We all have unending lists of needs. But are we really satisfying our Spiritual needs too?
There's healing available for everyone.

There's healing for everyone..
Faith is all that is required. Learning to exercise faith in Jesus and the willingness to humble yourself is the only thing that can save you.

The problem with religion is that people are constantly trying to complicate things. Followers are led to believe that they must go through a series of rituals to be saved. Jesus tried to simplify Godly living by showing us that He can do it even as a human being. Its doable!

'Here I am, Lord, Use me as you will'
Salvation is yours, the moment you confess this with your heart.

Missing you, Dad

Exactly 16 years ago on a day like today, my Sister and I gifted Dad a hand written greeting card. Themed with 'Lion King' stickers and a few lines of poetry that my Sister wrote, the Card on the mantlepiece still evokes strong emotions and lot of memories.

Daddy was the culmination of everything I aspire to be.
As a scientist with the Health Ministry, he was respected for his work etiquette. I remember filling with pride as I would walk besides him whenever he used to take me to work. I simply loved the way everyone would salute and greet him with respect. Even when he was unwell, "If I don't go to work, I won't be able to earn for you" is what he would tell me, he worked hard and never missed a single day of work in the 20 years that I remember. 
Like many of his generation, he believed work is worship and never switched jobs. Such was his dedication to his career that when he was called back 10 months after the first Gulf War (of 1990), he was only the first 50 expatriates that were allowed back to the war torn nation. We went through a lot more after that. The trauma of having to rebuild our lives took a severe toll  on Dad. He worked 2 jobs and so did Mom. 
Dad stood like a pillar amidst all the chaos. Never faltering. 

Joy of every party! Family and relatives still remember him for the brilliant jokes and skits that he used to mastermind at every wedding for the past 30 years.

Growing up, I remember every moment with my Dad, even ones that would be potentially embarrassing, like the instance when I asked him about sex.  He did an exceptional job because he went on to explain the journey of the sperms to the egg in a way that made sense to a 16 year old without embarrassing or 'damaging' him irreversibly. 
My family still remembers how Dad used to teach me. He used to make mince meat of my exposed arms. Unpleasant but then I would be the same strict disciplinarian to my kids too. Sorry Kiddos!

The only guy that ever really understood me as I was growing up, I remember how he would motivate me at school. Once having performed so poorly at school (Grades were everything, after all), he gave me an option of having to study in a government school or to continue in CBSE. Now, not that I have anything against government schools or the quality of education imparted there, but in my nubile mind, studying at a government school was equivalent to deportation. I was given three weeks time to pull up my socks. Three weeks until the 'model exams'. Three weeks to go from 3/100 to 60/100. That was the first time he gave me an ultimatum. It worked. I studied, like I'd never before. That I did get 60% is not the highlight. That my Dad was proud of what I've achieved in such a short time is what I still cherish.

In college, the distance and the experience of not having my Dad took its toll on me. I craved for my Dad in my formative years, but in his earnest desire to make sure his children had everything in life instead of planning for his retirement took a toll on his health too. Having worked two jobs for a good part of a decade, in a repressive country like Kuwait, away from his wife and children, would be the greatest punishment a man can go through. Having worked with highly carcinogenic substances as a Researcher, he became a victim of his job. A job that he gave 35 years of his life, signed his death warrant. They finished their obligation with a gold plated watch and a plaque commemorating his three plus decades of 100% attendance.

He spent the last 7 years of his life in and out of hospitals, his body battered with chemo but all the drugs in this world did little to dampen his soul. Full of the goodness that a father could have towards his children. Full of love that a husband could have towards his wife. 

He was still the rock of the family. He was all that I still aspire to be. 
They say that when your parents tell you something, you can do better not to ignore it. I didn't know this. I ignored a few of his advices, and landed myself in shit deeper than I would've liked to admit then. But he was polite yet stern. Never politically correct but always a wise Parent. Commanded respect when he was alive and still does much after he's gone. 

June '06, is a month etched in memory. I'd just returned from a short visit when he suddenly snapped a shoulder like a twig because his colon cancer had advanced to the bones. It was all downhill after this. He was bedridden because the cancer had already shut down his liver and his gall bladder. It appeared that his body was almost giving up. I was determined to be with him as much as I could.
I remember the pain in his eyes, even as he would struggle to sit up to greet the hundreds who visited him. I still remember how he would want me to switch off the lights so that I could sleep even as he slipped in and out of consciousness. I remember how on one particular night, he was almost in tears after having passed motion in his bed. Unable to help himself, he was in grief at all the 'inconvenience'. The person who toiled almost all of his adult years for everyone else was crying because he was making us clean him. I remember how he made all three of us sit up, and in his last talk to me, asked me to take care of the family. I remember how we wept uncontrollably together after that. I remember how he told my mom of how proud he was of me a day before he passed on. I can still hear him telling my mom to ask me to take care while I was on the phone. I remember how relieved and pain-free he was the night before he passed away. He had asked for his favorite dish. I remember how he said "All is peaceful now. I am glad". I remember how he told my mom to switch off the lights so that she could grab some sleep, an hour before he passed on. I still remember how peaceful he looked as he passed away. Something about how peaceful he looked in death comforts me and the idea of death a little more tolerable. 

He was my best Friend, my most trustworthy Confidante, my only Mentor, my greatest Critic and most importantly the Most Incredible Dad that I could possibly have.

I still miss you, Daddy. I know you forgive me for all the nasty things I've managed to do inspite of having been your son. I am proud of being your son and I am looking forward to seeing you again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

God is Now Here

Part 4

A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Growing up, I've read countless stories of how God is omnipotent and omnipresent.
He truly is. But why is there still a lot of doubt and disbelief in this world?
What is it about us that we constantly doubt His presence and His plans for us?
I go through indescribable pain every time a family member is about to depart after a long visit.
I go through a phase that borders on Melancholia. But all the sorrow is soon overcome when they come back. I am glad that we are reunited.

2000 years ago, the mother and disciples of our dear Lord had to go through the same indescribable pain when Christ was crucified.
Of course our Lord hates to see us upset. He would give Himself as ransom if that is the only thing that could make you smile, in a heartbeat.
But are we really grateful for all that He has done and will do in our lives?

When He was crucified, the Jews thought they had eliminated Him.
Little faith and perhaps even lesser knowledge of The Word.
Surely as He promised, He rose again from the dead. And is everywhere now.
In your life and mine. Working on mundane issues like your promotion, a new dress or a hike in your salary. Name it, pray for it, He is listening to you.

I've heard people complain about how God has abandoned them.
They mourn about how God (aka fate) is cruel towards them.
They lament about God is not doing anything good in their lives.

While some of those who complain do so just to gather sympathy, most are truly ungrateful and ignorant about the way He works in our lives.
He has a place and a plan for you. One that is unique and made only for you. He may not want to show you what the future is, but just because you don't see it, it doesn't mean it isn't there. He waits for you to let His plan unravel.

Seeing is Believing. In times when we loose all sight of hope, we throw our arms up in despair and cry.
How could you forget how God saved your life?
Maybe, nothing will happen the way you want. But His plans and His thoughts for you are way above any that you could possibly have. I've seen people who've rebelled against God, but have since struggled to get everything they didnt need. And I've seen people who've found it easier to rely on God only because it was the most easiest choice. But I'm yet see a person who trusts in Him because it is the only way to live.

'Life is difficult and can be unforgiving'. Not once did the Bible try and sell Christianity as a bed of Roses, but it is indeed comforting to know that He will pull you up even when least expected.
Scripture shows that He is omnipatient and loves taking in new recruits.
He is coming back, soon. But until then, trust Him to have a plan that will knock the socks off your feet.

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