Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just One Day?

Love Day. An entire day devoted to romantic love. Now the romantic in me likes the concept of celebrating love for a whole day, but the hopeless romantic in me loves the concept of celebrating all kinds of love everyday. I've never really had the pleasure of spending a Valentines Day with anyone but here are just some thoughts I have had about this day and some things on relationships.

My first thought was kind of towards the ladies. If today, your birthday, and your anniversary are the only days he does something "special" for you, then maybe it's time to reconsider your relationship. I feel like it's special occasions that make guys think these are the only days you treat her like she's the only girl in the world. 

My Pastor (Pastor Steven Furtick) preached a series at Elevation Church called Visionary Love Dream Sex. The series was about dating, relationships, sex, and marriage. One particular thing he said that hit me really hard was, and this isn't an exact quote, but it went something like, "Just because you have won her heart, does not mean you stop trying to win it over again everyday." Yeah, that's right, every single day! If you do not have the urge, the willingness, the want to pursue her every day, then why are you with her?? 

My second thought: I know for sure I want someone who is going to have me in pursuit of her for the rest of my life. I never want to stop wanting her, and I never want her to stop wanting me. This isn't a one-way thing here. Now I believe that the guy should probably do more the pursuing, but I also want to be pursued. Maybe I have an extremely fairytale view of all of this, but I am ok with that. I enjoy thinking about waking up and being excited because I get to win her heart all over again today. I am definitely not going to wait just for Valentines Day. 

Which leads me to a sub thought - If you do your best to win her over everyday, then the special occasion days better be out of this world good. I don't mean break the bank. The money you spend on her is in no way an indicator of how much you love her (and if she thinks it is, then dude you've got some thinking to do). I just feel like, today you should do something you haven't done before for her that would be sentimental to her. Now a Tuesday is a hard day to do that, but maybe this weekend. That's just me. 

Song of Songs 2:3
 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, his fruit was sweet to my taste.

My last thought comes from the verse above. Pastor Steven talked about this verse in one of the sermons from Visionary Love Dream Sex. Here the woman is talking about the man being a shade or a protector. She delights in sitting in his shade and his fruits are sweet. I believe that we as guys have a responsibility to be a shade to our significant other. That we have to be a safe place in the world where she can go to. Not because you yourself is the safe place, but because you reflect Christ's light so much that she delights in being under your protection. The only fruits you should produce are fruits to nourish and help her grow every single day in Christ.

Again, this isn't a one-way thing. I definitely want to find comfort in my significant other. I want to grow spiritually because of her. I know who I end up with will make me the best person I could never imagine to be. One of my favorite quotes I have seen lately was from twitter and it reads, "In whatever decision you are trying to make ask yourself, 'Will this make me more able to be used by God, or less able?'". I think about this when I think about who I am meant to be with. If our relationship hinders me from being used by God, then it is not a relationship I should be invested in. If God isn't apart of it, I want nothing to do with it. 

These are just some things that have been on my heart about all of this. I am not saying these are the way you should think. Just giving you a glimpse of the unstable, unconventional, crazy mind of mine. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Culture Shock

When I was born, my parents decided that they were going to raise me as "American" as possible but they also wanted to instill a foundation of the culture my family comes from. They decided to speak both Farsi and English to me, the problem was that I had begun developing an accent and they did not want that to happen. So when my brother was born, they just spoke English to me and my brother. I have retained most of the language, but I am not longer fluent.

My parents tried to send me to a class, so that I would pick it back up. That didn't work at all. If you ask me, I feel like trying to learn a language fluently in a classroom really isn't possible. Yes, you can learn some vocabulary words, and the right way to do things, but then when you try and apply it in the real world you freeze up.

Later when I was around 12 years old, my mom and I flew to Iran and stayed for about a month. I was nearly fluent within two weeks. I was speaking to everyone and was able to communicate in a completely different language. It was mostly because I had the foundation, but more importantly it was the submersion in to the culture. It was being surrounded by the language; the food, the traditions, and the culture that helped me get fluent again in Farsi (Persian). I haven't been to Iran or spoken consistently in Farsi in 6 years, so I am not fluent anymore.

Church is a lot like learning a new language. Stay with me, it'll make sense. A lot of people go to church and that’s it. Some go more than others. Going to church is great; you're taking initiative to better your walk with the Lord. Here are some points to better organize my thoughts:

Going to Church Is Like Going to Language Class

You are learning the vocabulary. You are learning how to make sense of certain things. You take notes so you don't forget what you have learned. I think you get it.

Learning how to make sense of how God does, why God does, where God does, what God does can really be like learning a completely new foreign language. You just don't understand it until you begin to study it.

When You Think You Know Enough, You Eventually Find Out Your Completely Lost

I know there are people out there who have taken a Spanish class or French class. You sat through the class for a month or two, got great grades, and understood everything so far. So you're thinking to yourself, "I think I could talk to someone now!" Then when you do end up talking to someone who actually does speak French or Spanish, you either find yourself completely lost and forgetting basic things you learned. Maybe you were able to get through a simple conversation, but the person who does speak the language will know you really can only speak very little.

That’s the same thing that happened to me in my faith. I thought I was good. I went to church for a couple months and built up enough to think I could take the world on. That was a mistake. Just like learning a new language, you should NEVER STOP trying to learn about God. The minute you think you have enough, is when you begin to decline.

You Have to Submerse Yourself in the Culture to Understand the Language

In order to learn a new language, you have to be surrounded by the language. You have to do it every single day. People often don't think about slang, different phrases, or "sayings" a language comes with. People don't think about the taboo things in different cultures. In order to understand the language inside and out, you have to be in the culture, to live it!

In order to understand what God is trying to do in your life, you have to submerse yourself in His culture. You have to surround yourself with Christ for him to reveal things to you, so you can better understand what is happening in your life. You might ask… How do you even do that??

Volunteer at your church. Or if that isn't an option, get involved somehow! Join a Bible Study group, or help out a project the Church is promoting. Do something with your church than just attending. You have to submerse yourself into the Church's culture to start to understand the Love people experience every day. Once you experience God move, it’s pretty much over for you. You will finally see what we all see when someone new is saved, or someone lost has come back to Christ, or when you see people publicly, fearlessly, and shamelessly proclaim Christ as their savior by being baptized in 40 degree weather in the Mountains.

I'll finish it by telling you how I have been blessed by integrating my life into the culture of my Church. I attend Elevation Church at the Boone Extension in Boone, NC. It has been a complete blessing in my life. God has moved mightily through that Church and continues to do it every day. I began volunteering and had started to understand what it meant serve God. You begin to learn that it's not about you, and being a part of something so big you can even see your own life anymore. I tell you, its liberating. I was lucky enough that the worship team thought I was somewhat of a decent musician, and I now get to play on stage every weekend and watch people worship Christ. I will talk about that on a later date.

This whole thing comes down to...... submerse your life into the Culture of Christ's love. To be surrounded by His love is humbling and joyous. I beg you; do not miss your opportunity to experience Christ on a new level!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cooking With Jesus

If there is one sentence I could use to describe my passion for cooking it would be this. Eating keeps me alive, but Cooking is my life! I have had an interest in cooking since I was a little Sina. My Mom told me when I was three or four I would fold hand towels and act as if they were burgers or steaks. I would use the couch as a huge grill and grab one of my Mom's spatulas and act like I had a restaurant because my Dad had one. She said when I was just one years old, I would go to the kitchen and take out all of her pots and pans, lay them on the floor, and try and cook. She had to eventually hide them because I would do it every-single day. By the time I was 12, I was cooking in my Dad's restaurant. I love to cook.

So lets stop with me and talk about the French. They basically laid the foundation to modern cuisine. They are pioneers in the cooking world, and have come up with most of the techniques that chefs use today. Other than being known for they're unique presentations, pastries, and bread, they are known for their sauces.

By far one of the most important components when building a delicious and unforgettable meal is the sauce. It can take a dry piece of meat and make it seem like it was the best meat you've ever had. It can take just a piece of pound cake and turn it into a delectable desert. Sauces are used for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert.

During the main course the French usually like to use a sauce. It is rare if there is no sauce. The basis for most every sauce in French cuisine is called "fond". The word is French for "foundation". It is the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan after you saute vegetables or any type of meat. Here's what it looks like:

Yeah, I know, it doesn't look like anything does it? Just looks like a mess. Well friends, that is a beautiful sight if you know what you are looking at. At this point, you get the pan very hot, take a type of liquid (stock, spirits, wine) and pour it into the pan. This is called "deglazing" the pan. Here is a pic of deglazing, you can see the "fond" on the left side, and the chef is pouring in some red wine to deglaze in a hot pan.  

What you are doing is dissolving all that amazing flavor the fond has to offer. It is by far the most important part of building a sauce. 

That's right, a sauce is built. It doesn't come from a box, and if it does it will never be as good as sauce built with a fond. Quality and convenience are rarely seen holding hands! After the fond dissolves into the liquid, you can either reduce the sauce (to make it thicker and concentrate flavor) or add some type of fat and other seasonings to make a different type of sauce. At this point the possibilities are endless! 

I could go on and on when talking about cooking, but other than ranting there is a purpose behind telling you all of that. I want to connect it all to how Jesus works in your life (or at least how He works in mine). If your like me, I like number and bullet points. So here goes:

1 - Choose the right materials to build your foundation.

The very first thing you have to do before even getting a fond on the bottom of the pan is searing or sauteing a piece of meat or some veges. You also had to choose a pan and what you were going to cook on. If you choose the wrong pan (like a non stick pan) the fond would have never stuck to the pan. 

Throughout life you have to surround yourself with the right influences. You don't choose who enters or stays in your life, but you choose who you keep and let go. These people will begin to influence what type of foundation you want to build. If you use meat that is rotten, well I'm guessing it wouldn't be a good thing. There were plenty of people in my life that were rotten, and had I stayed around them, I would be decomposing in hatred and self pity. 

2 - JESUS should be the FOUNDATION of your life.

You are the sauce. If fond is your foundation, then you are on your way to become the best sauce possible. 

If you want it literally...

You are you. If Jesus is your foundation, then you are on your way to becoming the best you possible. 

It really is that simple, but just because something is simple doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention to the details.  It's simple to just say, "I have made Christ the foundation of my life."... but are you doing anything about it. It takes action. You have to make an effort to make sure Jesus is the center of which everything in your life stems out of. 

3 - When Jesus' love pours over you, it will release your potential.

After you have the foundation of the sauce you have to deglaze the pan. If you don't deglaze the pan, the brown bits on the pan burn and become bitter and undesirable. In this case, Jesus' love is the liquid that is poured into the pan that releases all the potential that the "fond" has to offer. Embracing Jesus' love is the next important step.

All of the brown bits dissolve when deglazing. If just some of the bits dissolved, the final sauce would not be as good as it would have been had every bit of that fond gave itself up. You must surrender all that you are to Christ for Him to pull out all of your potential. He doesn't want some, He wants all of you! You must make a decision to completely give your life to Christ. 

4 - Because Jesus is your foundation, because his Love has formed you... The possibilities are endless.

The sauce is done! What does the chef do with it?... He uses it! He doesn't throw it away or put it aside. If you let a sauce sit too long it becomes cold and eventually separates. You must keep the sauce hot in order for it to stay the way it was formed... If you do not use the new life Christ has given you, it becomes cold or lukewarm! You must make every effort to stay hot and on fire for Christ!

You have new life in Christ, you can now do anything. I saw a quote today on Twitter that read, "When we do what we can, GOD will do what we can't." Give it your all, and watch Christ take it to a new level you never thought was possible.

Embracing Christ as your foundation reveals your potential, but Embracing Christ's love releases it. You are now the ultimate soldier, the ultimate weapon for the Kingdom.

One last thing to close it up. If you look at the picture of the pan with the fond, it just looks dirty and messy. All it takes is to deglaze the pan and keep building the sauce. - If your life is messy, dirty, and just seems like there's no direction... Just know, if you have made Christ as your foundation and begin to embrace his love and give all that you have to offer to him... He can begin building you into a person you never thought you could be. He is the greatest Chef that ever existed and he can't wait to turn you into a beautiful masterpiece that will bless the world!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why So Abrupt?

Interruptions, I'm not sure anyone likes them. With complete disregard of your momentum, they can derail you. Make you think twice about your dreams and ambitions. My life has been interrupted completely. I had big plans for myself: to leave North Carolina and attend a big university for Grad School, and eventually settle down in a big city either up north or out west. I had applied to University Kentucky, was interviewed, and it seemed like I was going to get in their Grad Nutrition Program. I didn't get in. 

When God chooses someone to change the world for his Glory, he will abruptly interrupt their life - their plans - their dreams. Abrupt - the definition at dictionary.com says, "sudden or unexpected, terminating or changing suddenly". God has suddenly changed my ambitions and dreams, and now that they are his, I find purpose in them. No question about it.

My plans for worldly glory look so pointless and so empty now that God has shown me his plans for my life. The bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 -" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " While that verse has so much hope, assurance, and ultimate love in it, I can't stand it when people just whip it out to make someone feel better about themselves when they fail.

When you fail at something, it is usually because God is saying wrong direction. My flesh has failed, and now Im putting it on death row. With my flesh out of they way, God can takeover, and show me the direction he wants for my life.

This interruption has abruptly intruded in on my life, and this is my blog to show how God's love has invaded my veins and heart. I hope it can inspire, lead, encourage, convict, and more importantly, raise God to a height were everyone can see Him. 

My name is Sina, and God has intruded my life with an interruption opportunity to live for His glory. There's no turning back now!