Thursday, November 12, 2009

In pursuit of The Way, The Truth and The Life.

It is a general perception among non-believers that religious people have 'loose screws' somewhere and are wasting their lives by leading boring lives. I beg to differ. The Catholic group at the University is an amazing fun filled group. I see the true joy in their lives. It is a joy which feeds on the eternal source, Jesus. I pursued material things to keep me happy. I went on trips, I hung out with friends, I wanted to be cool.[:D] But I knew something was missing. Not that these things are bad, but at the end of any event I would feel low and look forward to the next dose of entertainment to give me that high. I was restless. But now I am at peace. I am happy to have found true eternal happiness in God. I wanna learn more about God, how amazing He is, about the awesome things He has in store for those who love Him.

So what do I know about Him? God is love. Plain and simple. God loves us and we must love him. Through love we have a living relationship with God. Sadly, this relationship is broken by sin. But Jesus Christ has died for our sins and saved us. We have to believe in this, repent for our past sins and lead a new life with Christ at the center. All three are important. The first is about faith. We have to believe that Christ is our savior. He has bridged the chasm that separated God from humanity.

The second step is repentance. Repentance begins by acknowledgment of sins. We are human, we are weak, we are fallible. But we have to accept our mistakes and be sorry for our failures. We have to express our sincere regrets for our misdeeds and vow to do our best to lead better lives. We must ask God for forgiveness and he will definitely forgive us because we are his children. This sequence is beautifully pictured in the parable The Prodigal Son.

And the third part is leading the new life. We have to trust God with our lives and our future. God is our father. He loves us and wants us to live a full and happy life. He has good things in store for us. To quote from the scripture, Jesus says, (Matthew 7:11) "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" And when we believe in God, it’s not about us anymore. It’s about others. Greed for power and wealth, the root causes of the world’s miseries, will vanish.But leading a new life will be tough. We can’t fight temptations by ourselves. We need God’s grace and all we need to do to get it is to ask God. And we can be sure God will never test us beyond our limits. And when we are doing this because we love God, Christian life is no longer a set of rules and regulations. I am sure we are ready to do anything for the people we truly love. And that makes Christian life so easy!

I thank SPO, especially Jimmy for taking me to the Fan Into Flame retreat. The focus of the retreat was to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and to fan into flame the embers of our faith. People think being religious is an inborn thing. It isn’t. We have to cultivate our relationship with God. He is knocking on the door and we need to open it. He extends his hand to us, we have to accept it.

I ask you then, what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36) It is your life, what are you going to do it?

Ref: Fan into Flame Retreat booklet and the Bible!
Picture credits:

Monday, November 02, 2009

Some blah-blah and bling-bling about nothing in particular!

A few stray thoughts about graduate life. So what is the aim of graduate life? One of my courses makes me feel quite useless. The more I sit in that class, the stronger the urge to jump of a bridge gets. The prof speaks in English, yet it sounds like Greek. Maybe that’s because he uses so many Greek alphabets in his material. The home works are burdensome. But they teach us to think individually as a group or collectively as individuals. Sometimes the solutions to problems are so mathematically involved that you forget what the question was in the first place. A math joke to lighten the mood. Did you know that 3 out of 4 Indians make up 75% of the Indian population?

Grad life teaches you time management. But I could have taken T.I.M.E. classes in India itself instead of coming so far. Grad life teaches you to appreciate the carefree undergrad life, when we had all the time in the world to do nothing. Now when we have one extra hour due to the daylight saving practice, all of us get excited. Grad life teaches you to go to places with free food. Free food implies monetary and time savings. I have also rediscovered the convenience of writing with a pencil. I can’t remember when was the last time I used pencils so extensively. I am so glad I rediscovered the pencil. Makes my assignments much neater.

Yet another stray thought about the importance of the Law of Diminishing Returns. It is best explained through a graph. It is clearly seen that you will get about 75-80% of the desired output within the first 50% of the total effort. And the remaining 20% of output is obtained from the remaining 50% of required effort. Clearly the second 50% is a waste. I have applied this rule to two things. First, to my homework assignments. Attempting and formulating the problem fetches you most of the points. While spending hours over complex algebra hardly gets you any additional points. So it’s best to stop when you feel you will get a certain minimum number of points. The same goes with fitness. I see people slogging it out in the gym for that perfect physique. I feel that 50% of the effort would be sufficient for a decent physique and you would be spared the mental and physical agony of the remaining 50%. Talking about the gym, my exercise sessions have been a serious blow to my ego, which by the way is as big as the entire outdoors! Girls run faster and longer than me! There was time when I used to look down at people less fit than me. How dramatically the tables turn! I don’t fare any better with strength training either. I am the only guy who goes anywhere close to the light weight dumbbells! I console myself thinking that others are fools to be working so hard on their physique when my level of fitness should be fine for all. Yeah I have that ‘I know best’ attitude!

What else have I been up to? Well, I experienced my first American holiday, Halloween. The pumpkin carving experience was cool. But the costume party was even better. But first, the costume shopping experience. When I went shopping, I was shocked by the prices and variety. I couldn’t understand how people could spend $100 and above for Halloween costumes. I tried to find the cheapest one and it took me 30min to find it in the enormous store. Thus, I saw all the other accessories and make up kits that go with the costumes. It was overwhelming. Coming to the party, it was a lot of fun. The assortment of characters in one room was a feast to the eyes. There were star wars’ characters, queens, Elvis, old ladies etc etc. The costumes, accessories and make up were complimented by some talented acting. It was an amazing experience.

Then there was the homecoming parade. Another American tradition I guess. Luckily I got to be part of it through CFACT. It is quite a feeling to wave to crowds lining the streets through the sun roof of a SUV. I felt like a celebrity. The whole thing was over within minutes. But I had had my 15 minutes of fame by then. Yay! Then there was Oktoberfest in the Mech Dept. Free beer and free food attracted many students and profs. The HOD was the center of attraction in his traditional German costume. It was time of merriment. We could talk to profs about stuff besides research. Talking about booze, I went for a religious meeting in a pub here. Not that Christianity encourages drinking, it is just that drinking is not considered bad as long as it is well within limits. Sadly many college students don’t know what the limits are.

And I have had my first haircut. A novel and expensive affair. Back home in India, my barber knew exactly what I wanted and I merely had to sit on the chair and he would get to work. Here the hairdresser first measured my hair length in inches at various places on my head and then asked me how much do I want to cut. I gave a vague answer like short at the sides and back and a little longer on the top. She didn’t seem satisfied and asked me again. I replied by telling her to do whatever she felt was best. Then she asked me something which I didn’t follow. I again told her to do what she felt was best. In the end I was quite happy with what ‘she thought was best’.

Congratulations if you managed to reach this far in reading my blah blah. You are now a certified fan of blah blah. I hope to come up with more blah blah in the near future. Till then its goodbye from my side.