Tuesday, October 7, 2008

why?

I feel like God is wonderful, all-powerful, and amazing. Through him, I can do anything. Do.

However, doing isn't the issue. I want to be. As a imitator of Christ and a Christian, I need to act like it.

But I'm failing. Why?

Do I try to hard? Or am I striving for the wrong goals? Or do I just need persistence?

Part of the problem is that I want to speed up the process. I want to be the perfect witness now. It's unattainable, but I want it nonetheless. Why?

I want to speak and act for God. I want people to see me and say, "She's a Christian." I want virtues and love to pour out effortlessly. I want. That could be another part of the problem.

I am discontent with who I am. Sure contentment is important, but how content am I supposed to be? If I was perfectly happy with me now, I'd never change my ways and never grow up, right?

I need to be. I need to be now.

Impatient for God to work in me. I forget that I am God's agent, whom he deploys where he sees fit and assigns duties at his discretion. I forget that I am God's.

Just as I am making some progress, I regress again. Being God's is not enough. I have big goals and I can't possible make it. I'm not good enough, wise enough, or nice enough. My mom is reading a book called "Leading with a Limp." It recognizes that no leader is perfect. Neither am I, but I am so SO far from perfect I'm hopeless. All that God can do, doesn't help with my being human.

Or does it? Who am I listening to?

God cares about every aspect of my life. He loves me incredibly just as I am, as a human. He wants me to be like him, but he loves me all the same.

But love isn't enough. It doesn't achieve goals. God's love won't make me into a good, wise, or nice person. Or will it?

To live is Christ, to die is gain. It is all about Jesus. God's in charge and he knows what he's doing with me. Since he can work everything out, it is no business of mine how God goes about it.

But now we've made a full circle! I can trust God completely for my future, but I am afraid I won't be good enough by then. I want to be content in God's timing, but what if I'm the one who's just too slow to become like Christ?

I am so miserable.

2 Cor 10:18 -
"For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends."

What if I just tried to please God in my every day actions? What if I said, "All my goals are your department, God. I am just going to serve you"? I would ask God to help me be faithful in that little. I could do that. I can be a little, inadequate servant, if God is there to help me.

Always leaning on him, I won't be very strong or great. But I will have the great and strong One behind me and that is what counts. It doesn't matter who I am. It is all about the why. It's by grace, for glory. Another other way, any other reason fails.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

word economy

Wise
Organized
Really tough
Dynamite

Elusive
Concise
Optimal
Noteworthy
Overwhelming
Memorable
Yawn-banishing

This is a very interesting concept: making every word count. I tend to repeat myself, but I need to become more economical in my word use, especially in debate. Less repetition means more content.

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. - Proverbs 10:19

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. - Ephesians 4:29

"There's a great power in words, if you don't hitch too many of them together." - Josh Billings

"My father gave me these hints on speech-making: 'Be sincere, be brief, be seated.'" - James Roosevelt

Sunday, August 31, 2008

<333 =D !!!!!!!<3<3<3<3

"How many of you have facebook?" most hands go up
"How many of you have some sort of internet chatting system?" almost all hands go up
"Okay, how many of you have email?" every hand is raised
"Thought so. Now how many of you are completely sincere online?" everybody looks confused and checks on person next to him to see what he's doing

Yes, I made that up, but it sounds realistic. Sincerity is something I've been thinking about a bit recently. Dictionary.com defines it as: "freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity; probity in intention or in communicating; earnestness."

So, I went to evaluating myself. Am I generally a sincere person?

  • freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity: no problems there, in real life or on the internet
  • probity in intention or in communicating: *looks up probity* yep, i'm an honest kind of a girl
  • earnestness: orange alert! possible problem area here
If I'm sincere in two out of three ways does that make me generally sincere? I don't know. What I do know is this calls for some more investigation.

Looking back over the past few weeks, I tried to see where I might have had the most problems being sincere or earnest. I realized I sometimes pretend to be more interested in conversions than I really am for politeness's sake. However, I discovered that my biggest weakness is the internet. Imagine, a friend writes me:

"Hey!!!! How are you? I miss you soooooooo much!!! :( You are one of the best friends a girl could ask for and I'm so glad you got a facebook now! Anything exciting planned for this summer? *hugs* Love you tons!!!!! <333"

As most of you know, I like to agree. So I'll probably write back:

"Hey, girl!!!! I'm doing great! My summer's been pretty awesome! I went to several camps and learned tons. I miss you too!!! *hugs back* How's your summer been? Write back soon! Love you!"

Now the question is: Am I really that bubbly? Now, my friend here might be like that. (The entire thing is faked, just so ya know, although I've seen similar.) That's fine, because that's her personality. For me, I want to show her I care and that I value her friendship. It's like a ridge-pole. Be too happy-happy and I fall off being insincere; be too serious and I look uncaring or boring.

I decided to see what the Bible had to say about sincerity.

Romans 12:9-10 - "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."

1 Tim 1: 5-6
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.

1 Peter 1:22-23
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

I found out that love and sincerity were very much interwoven. To really love, I need to be sincere. It isn't a question of being truthful to your friends as much as it is a question of love. The 1 Timothy verse really stood out to me. I need to love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Otherwise, it's just meaningless talk. In a way that is the conclusion of the matter: it's either sincerity or it's meaningless talk. Now, I have to make up my mind to strive for sincerity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

discontentment (part 2)

The other song that really stood out to me on the Prince Caspian soundtrack was This Is Home by Switchfoot. I call this Peter's song. When the movie starts, Peter is discontent with his life, demanding respect he doesn't necessarily deserve from the other boys. He remembers being High King in Narnia. As soon as he is back in Narnia, he wants to be king again, which causes most of the issues between he and Caspian. Peter's problem was not only pride, but an unwillingness to accept life as it is. He need to realize that Narnia wasn't coming back; England is home.

Created for a place I've never known
This is home

Now im finally where I belong, where I belong

Yah this is home,
I've been searching for a place of my own,

Now I found it, maybe this is home

Yes this is home


By the end of the movie, all this has dawned on Peter. He realizes he has to go back to England. He never has to forget Narnia, but he must adjust and take what he's learned in Narnia and apply to his life at home.

And now, after all my searching
After all my questions

I'm going to call it home

I got a brand new mind set

I can finally see the sunset

I'm gonna call it home


Life may not be perfect here, but, for now, this is home. It is where God has placed me and I need to be content with that.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." - Heb 13:5

So many times I get discontent. I want to soar up into the future and make something of myself. Or, I wish I could return to the past, "back to how it was." Of course, all that can't happen. I have to live in today. I have to be thankful for each day God has given me to be a witness for him.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. - Col 5: 15 - 17

Sunday, July 20, 2008

discontentment (part 1)

We just got back from camp. On the way home, we were listening to the songs on our Prince Caspian CD that come on while the credits roll. The credits songs... I don't know what you call them... Anyhow, due to the influence of CFC awesomeness, a couple of smart brains in our car, and the lateness of the hour, I learned several things about the songs' hidden meanings and how I can apply them to my life.

The Call by Regina Spektor is the perfect the-end-the-event song. I loved it at the end of the movie, at the end of nationals, and at the end of camp. And, yes, it still makes me cry sometimes. It is such a lovely song. When I first heard it, I thought they were saying "no need to say goodbye" to Narnia. I always thought it was kind of ironic that they played this song about how "you'll come back" when Susan is kissing Caspian, never to see him again. Finally I've solved the mystery of "coming back," although Peter and Susan are leaving for good. This song is not about Narnia: it is about Susan. Just imagine that geeky boy who likes Susan is singing this song...

Just because everything’s changing
Doesn’t mean it’s never been this way before
All you can do is try to know who your friends are
As you head off to the war

Narnia is this magical place, kind of like camp, where everything is wonderful. There are difficulties, but it's not real life. At the beginning of the movie, Susan was just getting adjusted to the world when she is taken back to Narnia. Now she has to go through that adjustment all over: things are changing. If Susan was a little wiser, she'd realize she needs to stick to the friends she does have in England, like her family and even a geeky boy with a scarf, instead of kissing dreams. Life is difficult and you can't escape it. Friends help to easy the difficulties of continuous "war" here on earth.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! -Ecc 4:10

Interpreting this song in a different light reminded me just how important friends are. When times are difficult, there's no reason why I need to keep all my troubles and worries inside me. God has not only provided me with amazing friends, but he has also sent his son down to earth to understand everything we're going through. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Now we’re back to the beginning
It’s just a feeling and no one knows yet
But just because they can’t feel it too
Doesn’t mean that you have to forget

Let your memories grow stronger and stronger
’Til they’re before your eyes
You’ll come back
When they call you
No need to say goodbye

Yes, I agree, this song really is about memories and how you have to never let them go. However I think it's reasonable to extend that message. I need to embrace the friendships I do have in this life. I'm not going to survive the real world without them. Friendships are forever, and even if I leave camp, I have to stick to my friends. Anyway, there is no need to say goodbye. Heaven is just around the corner.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart."

Monday, June 16, 2008

a light burnt out

Yep. That's just what happened. In real life and in my mind. I am sitting here in this room with half an overhead light and a half-hearted smile on my face. In general I like my life, although right now I do not. Maybe I just get depressed easily, but I do feel pretty unhappy. I wonder how much of emotions should be tolerated and how much should be dealt with. Today... or right now, more correctly, I feel jealous and inadequate. Some days, it's because I realize how pretty and perfect my friends look and are and how average I look and am. Other days, I feel it's impossible to say what needs to be said at a public presentation, especially since I know other could do it better. Yet other days, I watch movie and read books and get reminded that my life is not a romantic fairy tale. And, yes, that means I feel jealous of people who don't even exist. Today, I feel outclassed by my sister. I love her dearly, but, oh, she seems endowed with all the social graces one could ask for. Sometimes, I convince myself that nobody would ever want to talk to me with her around, nobody would ever like me just for who I am.

I know these feelings, besides being untrue, are wrong. But they keep resurfacing. I used to want to beat her in school subjects, but now it's a bit different. I want people to see me and think what a cool person I am and want to hang out with me. I am not asking my sister to change, because she is wonderful as is. It is I who need to turn my worries over to God. It's one of those things that I must keep battling with, a fight never over, yet a fight not my own. I don't just struggle against myself and my sin nature. It is also God vs. Satan. Satan wants me to hate my sister in my heart, but I don't and I won't.

But what God says is so much more freeing than the knowledge that I love my sister. He's telling me I don't need to measure up to my sister. We each have our own gifts, and even if not, who cares? He loves me just the way I am. He promises. What else could I possibly ask for? He will be true to me forever. Unlike friends, he will never go back on his word and will always be there for me. In fact I have no right to feel jealous. What is it to me what God does with my sister? I am following Him. He's the one I need to take after. I'm looking to his image, not to what the world would like to see. I don't need to be anything special for God to use me.

Knowing me, I have now thought of a song (Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns) to go along with my thoughts:

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

(Ah, this song brings back many fond memories of MASTERS.)

They say writing is therapeutic and I think I believe them. All my self-pity is melting quite away, with special thanks to two dear friends and some well-timed encouragement. I have to admit I feel a a great deal silly about my thoughts listed above. But I won't delete them. I know the fear of inadequacy and the beast of jealousy will return. I will keep this post to remind me that the battle to look good to others is not a cause for sighs, but is a chance to glorify God and get to know Him better. The bar which I must try to attain is higher than that of humans and far more lasting and rewarding.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. --Romans 5:3 - 5

Thus, God's helped me see the light; I've worked through my issues with myself for today and I feel much more light-hearted then before (although I haven't done anything about the light bulb yet.)

post nats

I know the title is confusing. it can mean "after nationals" or "a post about nationals." Either way you take it is fine with me. I'm not sure where to begin. First off, it was awesome to see my friends. I also loved being there and competing. But after all that, what did I come away from Nationals with?

I wonder what makes an acquaintance a friend... God brought me so many friends at this tournament, despite one of my best friends not coming. He knew I needed friends and provided for me. He is so good! I got to know some people in my region a whole ton better. I also met some of my out-of-region friends' friends. In addition, I reconnected with some people who I thought I'd never see again. Because Nats was so huge, I didn't hang out with the same people the whole time. It was actually fun talking to people I had seen at numerous tournaments but had never talked to before. So many little moments showed me just how much God loves me and how many friends I really do have.

The competition was so awesome. I loved all of our rounds. I am so thankful we were able to debate at Nationals! I know of some people who qualified, but then got sick and couldn't compete. That would be sad. :^( I watched a ton a speeches and outrounds. I was really sad how few of us broke. Nonetheless I was happy for those who did. In fact, when one of my friends broke in impromptu (and really tough event!), I screamed really really loud and hugged her tight, even though she was on the phone. I quite surprised myself.

I don't know, but after all that, it's hard to go back to "normal life." I feel like singing "the call." There are so many things I want to do here at home, but I know I need to work on my school first. I must give my "fun life" a break. I know, I know... it's work first, then play. What I really want to know now is: did I just have a fun week or did I actually learn something?

I think the biggest thing I learned last week was just big and sovereign God is and how little I matter. During the tournament I was thinking praying things like, "help me to communicate you" and "help us to remember all that we've learned." While that's not wrong, I think now I have a bigger picture. It's God makes everything happen. On the first day, Mr. Larimer was speaking to us about how it's not our skills, but God's goodness that brought us to nats. That is just so good to remember. Where is there room for pride if it's all God? Mr. Larimer also told us we need to trust God for the outcome of the rounds, maintain our focus on God, and be thankful in all things. I wrote all that on the back of my name tag as I usually do, but it didn't really start to sink in until later. Thinking through the whole nats experience is helping me put my thoughts together into some sort of organized fashion. We had some pretty awesome rounds. I kinda of assumed that because we were such good debaters we didn't get totally creamed at nats, but that is not necessarily the truth. I really like the song from Casting Crowns (and it was so stuck in my head at Nats):

Giver of every breath I breathe
Author of all eternity
Giver of every perfect thing
To You be the glory
Maker of Heaven and of Earth
No one can comprehend Your worth
King over all the universe
To You be the glory

And I am alive because I’m alive in You

And it’s all because of Jesus I’m alive
And it’s all because the blood of Jesus Christ
That covers me and raised this dead man’s life
It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive
I’m alive, I’m alive

So, while it would have been really cool to do well at nats, in addition to have alot of fun, I'm figuring out that it doesn't matter that much. God's plans are so much better than any of my ideas. On the last day, Mrs. Moon (she is so amazing!) was speaking about people want to have success. Sometimes people say, "Oh, I'm not very good, that's why I didn't break" or "Well, we broke partly because we worked so hard." But both of those are wrong. People don't make either success or failure: It's God. Her words were, "You are not enough." I had to ponder over those words for a long time and only now am I coming to some idea of what she means. No matter how much I think I'm on top of running my life or winning the round... I am not enough.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. -- Col 1:16

Since I am not enough and God, not I, rules the world, what is it to me if my will isn't fulfilled? My job is to serve God. If I'm faithful in that, God will take care of the outcome of any of my actions. It is so tough to live as a communicator for Christ though. When I was at our ENOCH convention, I realized how much I just wanted to do all the communicating about debate and speech. Sometimes I felt like I wasn't even giving God a chance to work in people's hearts. I walked away from the convention very disheartened, not because of a lack of interest, but because I wasn't sure if I had said anything worthwhile. I have to make the most of the time (for the days are evil) and I know in at least one instance I didn't because I was relying on myself. It shouldn't be like that. My primary focus needs to be on Him. I, in myself, cannot accomplish anything. That is something that is hard for me to take. Unless I understand that I am not enough, I am still "preaching myself" and little can come from it.

So, all this is what I've taken away from Nationals. Of course all this is making me wonder what goals I have that I need to turn over to God. I now understand better that it is He who makes goals happen, but do I really have any goals worth striving for right now? Such big questions I will have to think over and blog about later. I will leave you with three things to do (thanks to Mr. Larimer again!):

  1. Walk in love - be immitators of Christ
  2. Walk in light - do what God says
  3. Walk in wisdom - redeem the the time and set appropriate goals, but leave the rest to God.


And thus, nationals is over. I still have to press on.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

gains and losses

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? --Lk 9:25

Good question. In my debate, and even in life, I so often lose sight of what I'm striving for. Generally, I'm pretty decent at gaining the world. I don't have too much trouble living at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on me. Recently, we've been gaining lots of wins in our debate too. But how much does this kind of stuff really matter? I'm feeling pressures (mostly self-inflicted) to do awesome at Nats. Really though... even if we won Nats in 2008, who's going to remember by 2010? LOL. Life in itself is so fruitless.

However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all. But let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything to come is meaningless. --Ecc 11:8
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. --1 Tim 6:7

So, it's not that much good to gain the world, but not that bad either. However, beware gaining the world and consequently losing your soul! As a saved Christian, I'm not too worried about "forfeiting my soul," but that misses the point. Since I have a new life in the Light, I don't want to slip into back into habits of darkness. Those sort of things are gone. Gaining the world is so useless if it harms my relationship with Christ. I mean He's really what matters and lasts, not the world!

What does this mean for me? To gain the world, I tend to:
  • Seek the praise of men. Instead, I have to work to please God, not to earn the praise of men, as nice as it is. But that kind of recognition doesn't last, fuels pride, and preempts rewards in heaven. Any praise I may get goes directly to God. It's all His anyway, because He makes things happen. (Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. --Eph 6:7 and In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. --Matt 5:16)
  • Look out for my wants and interests as the highest priority. However, I need to put God first. And that means serving Him and others. This is so incredibly hard for me to do and it is so incredibly easy to serve myself. (Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. --Eph 4:2 and Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. --Gal 6:2)
  • Try to be like the world. Oh! This is so far from what I should be doing! Paul calls me an alien to this world. I am in the world, but I cannot be of it. The word advocates all sorts of sinful things that I have thrown away. By being part of the world, I'm basically agreeing with all those things. (Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. -- 1 John 2:15, 16 and You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? --1 Cor 3:3)
Doing these things may get me far in the world, but I really don't think it's worth it. The world and it's logic make sense, to some extent.
  • How can you know if you're being successful? If you are praised.
  • How can I be happy? By doing what I want.
  • How can I fit in? Be like everybody else.
Unfortunately, the world gets it all wrong.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. --Col 3:1 - 4

So back to what this whole post was about. I want to gain. There are many things in life I want, more than maybe you'd imagine. I'm not all that competitive, but how I want to win! I've planned out things that I think would make my life awesome, like winning some rounds at Nats. I'm entering a contest about civics and I hope to do well in that too. Last year, I took 2nd place in my VFW essay contest. This year I want first. I imagine that with some hard work, all things are possible. See how the world influences me? With God, all things are possible! I struggle with my desires to gain. But how much will this cost me?! Do I want to lose the inheritance I already have?! These are selfish desires which hereforth are washed down the drain!

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. --Phil 3:7, 8

Thursday, April 17, 2008

some call it a riot... i call it integrity

Well regionals is coming right up! Most of our speech and debate prep is done, but I think I need to prep my mind spiritually. The tourney we are going to has been dubbed "the RIOT." I have no idea what this stands for, but I'm sure it'll be fun. As good as that is, I don't want to go just for the fun. On the other hand, I don't want to go just to win. Earlier this week I was thinking how I kinda need a goal to strive for. I had been thinking alot about integrity and thought it might make an interesting goal. Besides that, in TP debate and in DUO, I am working with a partner. For us to do our best, we need to be of one mind. In the same way, I need to be entirely committed to God.
~~~
I have to say, though, that before this week I thought integrity was the same thing as wisdom... so, first, lets clear up what integrity is!

According to the American Heritage Dictionary:
in·teg·ri·ty (ĭn-těg'rĭ-tē) n. 1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. 2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness. 3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
~
Looking at the definitions right now, I think number 3 is the closest to what I'm envisioning. Yes, I will call this, at least to myself, the integrity tournament. What does that mean for me? I want to avoid getting caught up in the little things of the world, instead keeping God in my heart. I'm going to be striving to do God's moral will at this tourney. Not that I don't seek to grow in Christ outside of tourneys, but at tournaments it's so easy to forget what I'm working towards, to get competitive, or to lose hope.
~~~
After doing a bit of fun, but thought-provoking, research I found that integrity has bunch of aspects and implications I didn't expect. Here's some of what I found:
~
1 Cor 15:58 - "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."

In the ESV bible, the words "stand firm" are rendered "be steadfast." There's four things here, it seems. 1. Stand firm: don't back down. 2. Let nothing move you: what do you think nothing means? Since I have been crucified with Christ, I need to throw all of my sinful nature away. I cannot get carried off with jealously and discontentment. 3. Always give yourself fully to the work of the LORD: I need to dedicate myself to serving God and others, instead of my own desires. 4. Your labor in the LORD is not in vain: all the things I do that honor God have a purpose. He will work things out exactly to his amazing, big-picture plan. Basic lesson: stay firm on your commitment to God.
~
Neh 7:2 - "I put in charge of Jerusalem my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah the commander of the citadel, because he was a man of integrity and feared God more than most men do."

Wow, this guy got put in charge not because of his awesome leadership or communication skills, but because of this one-mindedness and fear of the LORD. Pretty cool, huh?
~
Rom 15:5-6 - "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Besides being steadfast to God, I need to have unity with my partner in debate and DUO. Now I really like this verse because it gives me not just the mandate of unity, but also the reason for unity. If we want to communicate Christ and glorify Him, we need to be as one - otherwise we'll give off conflicting messages. This really seems to be speaking to what sort of attitude we have while competing and the way we carry ourselves in the rounds. I must seek to be united to better glorify God.
~
Tit 2:7-8 - "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."

I am an example to others. I am not saying that in a way that makes me better than anybody else. I am simply reminding myself that nothing I do goes unwatched. It is imperative that my example is a good one, that it reflects the hope that I have in Jesus. I am to be such an example that anybody who doesn't like what I have to say will find my words and actions irreproachable and irrefutable. That's a tough job!
~
Col 3:1-4 - "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

So, here is the conclusion. If I am girl of integrity, my life is in Christ and it is all about Him. I need to set aside my desires to do well and to have fun, in view of what God has done for me and my role in glorifying Him. I want to give Jesus my whole and undivided attention, whatever the name of the tournament, whenever I'm in His world.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

planning my life

Last night, when I was trying to go to bed, a verse popped into my mind. "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. " (Pr 16:2) On Thursday, I had shared from Pr 16:3, so I thought I probably knew everything important from this chapter already. Not quite correct. All this week I have been thinking about the future. Most of the time debate related, sometimes not. I have been desiring to get the first seed in the prelims, to maintain our DUO standing, to blog, to be in heaven, to be thinner, to eat... but most of all to go to Nationals! Everyone of these things seemed innocent in themselves. However, once I remembered Pr 16:2, I realized how little control I have over these things. The verse says that my motives are weighed by the LORD!!! In other words, I might think it's fine to desire all these things, but God know why I want them. So I starting thinking about things I wanted and why I wanted them:
  • First seed in prelims: make me look good, show I'm a good debater
  • Maintain our DUO standing: don't want to get worse, "need" points for nationals
  • Blog: to connect with God
  • Be in heaven: i was sick of the world; i wanted to get away from my problems, not solve them
  • Be thinner: make me look better in the mirror
  • Eat: be happy and yummy
  • Nationals: i couldn't figure this one out!!! I knew I wanted to do our duo there (to what end?) I knew if we made it in debate too, so my parents would have a great likelihood of actually letting us go to Nationals at all.
Okay, I count 7 things I wanted. One of those things I wanted in order to please God. (not saying of course these are the only things i wanted this week!) So, I knew I wanted to do a bunch of things, but God knows why I want to do them and he is the one in charge of how many of them happen. Just know I went back to Pr 16 to see what else it had to say. Here are all the verses I found that related to plans and planning:

Proverbs 16
1 To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue.
2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD.
3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed.
4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends—
even the wicked for a day of disaster.
9 In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.
20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.
33 The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the LORD.

Eight verses in one chapter! Yeah, I can say whatever I want to do, but God is the one who makes anything happen. God isn't going to let me get these things if they aren't pleasing to him. So, I need to make my plans please him. I need to give my own desires over to God and let him have them all.

Let's impact this a bit. How do my desires fit in with all this? (actually my desires have kinda wilted now) Last night, I felt God telling me that the only way I'm going to nationals is if I going to please him only! I 'm not going there on my merit, or to have fun. My plans need to please him. My goals no longer have to do with how well I do, but with my ability to be a Godly witness and example. Last year I wanted to go to a debate conference to see my friends. That was such a hollow goal. I realized that I could not go to that conference with that goal. God changed my goals and I went to learn and to encourage others. It's like that for Nationals. I now know if my goals are self-aggrandizing, I will not go to Nationals.

But what if all my goals in life are turned to God and I still don't get what I wanted originally? Two responses 1. I don't need to. If I've given God my goals, I don't need to care whether I get what I wanted originally or not. 2. Who cares? All things in life that I may have wanted before are pointless in the long run. Everything passes away.

I mean, its going to hurt if pleasing God is my goal, but we still don't go to Nationals. Yes, it's going to hurt alot. But really... God can use me in many ways without going to Nationals. I can still do his will even if it isn't my will. As I submit my will to God, I learn to love what he has planned for me. I know from experience that his plans always work and mine usually don't. =D Besides all that, what could Nationals have benefited me if it wasn't will?

All in all, maybe this blog post hasn't changed what I desire or what I do, but at very least I cannot help looking at things in a different light. God's light, I hope. Maybe this has no impact on you, readers. It should though. If you give your plans over to God, He will work everything to benefit you. On your account, though, do what pleases God. Leave planning your life to Him.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A tale of a pencil sharpener

This afternoon, while sharpening 72 pencils for our tourney with our electric pencil sharpener, I started running through my Topical Memory System bible verses in my head. I had got through the first 12 verses when the pencil sharpener stopped working. I fiddled around for a few minutes until I realized that the sharpener had gotten overheated.

"Sigh", thought I, pulling out my small pencil sharpener that wasn't run by electricity. "I'll have a dozen blisters before I finish this job." After sharpening 5 pencils by hand, I returned to the electric sharpener. Thankfully, it had cooled down sufficiently to let me use it. My outlook on life became cheerier, and I started my work (and my bible memory) again.

Despite having to revert to hand-sharpening a couple of times, I had sharpened all but 10 pencils when I finally finished with my 60 bible verses. "This is going so well!" I thought. "I'm so glad I can be a blessing to my family in this way and practice memorizing bible verses! Hmmm... let's see, I need some more verses to review." So Genesis 1:1, John 3:16, and other verses that weren't in the topical memory system started playing on the screen of my mind.

By the time I thought of "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths," I had only 4 pencils left.

I pondered the significance of the verse. "What a nice verse. It's so useful to remember! Today is a wonderful day! And the sharpener hasn't jammed for 6 pencils! And I only have 4 pencils left! I'm sure I'll be able to finish before sharpening them before it jams again. Splendid, splendid."

With this state of mind, I stuck the fourth-to-last pencil into the electric sharpener. And... you guessed it!- the sharpener didn't start. I shook my head in chagrin, amazed at the irony of my situation. I had leaned on my own understanding while pondering a verse that told me to trust in the Lord!

You could call it coincidence, but it seems to me to be Providence. Now the concept of trusting God in everything and leaning not on my own understanding has taken on a special meaning.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

sweet sixteen

well, it's been one sweet year. now it's all bittersweet. i was going to write a nice little poem about my year, but i didn't. so, now i'm going to list some of favorites from age 16:
  • Speech and debate... i love my partner! <3
  • Becoming stage manager at drama class
  • Making NCFCA friends...not just a few, but alot!
  • Practicing my DUO in the ladies bathroom at the church
  • Going to CFC camp, tour conference and MASTERS (and meeting very awesome people there!)
  • being a tournament orphan with some of my best friends
  • correcting latin hw with my friends and bemoaning the poor "line-skippers"
This has just been a fantastic year for friends and for my spiritual life. I have so many friends for which i'm thankful. God is also teaching me so much. I love the lessons he's teaching me, even tho they are difficult sometime. It's like i live such a vibrant life, because He makes it whole, new and exciting all the time.

This is a really cool song that I heard on the radio. It's called "Brave." I love the part about the status quo.

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You’re safe and sound and
Until now it’s where I’ve been

‘Cause it’s been fear that ties me down to everything
But it’s been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I’m spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I’m ready to jump
Even ready to fall

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I’ve never known a fire that didn’t begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I’m gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

for the longest time i was just happy to let my life be. it was good but not challenging. i didn't get to see much of God at work. one example i'm thinking of is the time i went to CFC camp. i had alot of fun and i made alot of friends, but i'm not sure how much of the Lord's work i did there. i called that a wasted opportunity. i hate it. i want to dedicate my life to God and do away with my sinful self. i'm realizing the more i focus of God the better life is. alot of times i'm pretty "happy go lucky" and immature. so, i'm making 17 official year to grow up. i'm not sure if this is going to work.

Rom 12:1 - 2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

sixteen is over. seventeen is now. it's so hard to tell what constitutes having fun and what is childlikeness. i want to grow in wisdom, but i still want to be me. first of all i know i need to be more ladylike.

1 Peter 3:3,4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

often i'm not quiet and gentle. i'm usually talkative and silly. this isn't what God is looking for. when people look at me, i don't want them to see an immature girl, but a woman growing in Christlikeness. i was thinking recently about getting married. i'm realizing that i'm very unprepared for that. i'm praying for an amazing guy, but i also know i need to be ready. i can see alot of ways in which i'm lacking and i know i need to work more on doing God's will, not my own. so what i want to begin working on this year is preparing myself for my future. not that i intend to get married any time soon, it's just that i want God's best for me. i'm trusting God to bring the man, but i myself want to be worthy of him. really, tho, i don't think about marriage this much. however, i am making it my goal to become a Godly and gentle young lady.

So this post has encompassed many scattered ideas. I will leave you saying that
1. I thank God for the good work begun in me
2. I'm also thankful I've finally been woken up spiritually
3. Sixteen was a great learning year
4. Seventeen is an uncharted course. I don't know what's ahead, but i intend to trust God all the way and grow in him.
5. I wonder how many of my aspirations will actually last and how much of this is noise. Time will tell, i suppose. I know I'd like to really grow this year and impact others. The rest is up to God. He'll decide what happens.

Matt 5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

grace alone

Verse 1
Every promise we can make
Every prayer and step of faith
Every difference we can make
Is only by His grace.
Every mountain we will climb
Every ray of hope we shine
Every blessing left behind
Is only by His grace

Chorus
Grace alone Which God supplies
Strength unknown He will provide
Christ in us, our cornerstone
We will go forth in grace alone.

Verse 2
Every soul we long to reach
Every heart we hope to teach
Everywhere we share His peace
Is only by His grace.
Every loving word we say
Every tear we wipe away
Every sorrow turned to praise
Is only by His grace.

This is the song they played at the end of the SUN tourney. It really made me think. Actually it made me cry. My whole experience with the song floored me. I had just received my awards in speech and debate. I was thrilled about how far God took me in speech, but i was disappointed with our debating. I remembered that morning I had told myself, "We will advance just exactly as far as God wants us to." Contentment is such a hard virtue to learn. It's one of those things that you have to put your mind to and block out all other discontent thoughts. I was so discouraged at the end of the tourney, but these lyrics made me realize how little my win-loss record matter and how much grace my partner and I have been getting recently. This song says that everything we do is only by his grace. I keep letting myself think, "I know what I'm doing. My debating is pretty decent. I'll do fine." But it's not like that!!!!! The only way I can do anything at all is through Jesus. I need to learn that what ever skills or talents i have in speech or debate belong fully to God and it is he alone that accomplishes anything. This tournament was a big lesson in relying on God. I am confident he knows what's best for me. I can trust him to run my life. Only, will I let him?

So with debate, I thought (to some extent) that I didn't need God's grace. With speech, however, I would have never expected as much grace as God had given me. I went into my speeches not expecting to do well and knowing I was a good deal unprepared. That left alot of room for God. And so, I praise God, for he is all-round really amazing. He's teaching me so much, always patient with me when I neglect him, and so surprising.

Friday, February 22, 2008

simple, yet not

Now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
--Deut 10:12-13

really, our faith is simply put. does it get any more difficult than this? yes, it does: sin is right there beside me, always getting me off track. i must fear, follow, serve, love, and obey. i understand. it's just the carrying out that's the tough part. "whoever knows what is right and does not do it, for him it is sin." ouch, huh? today i was listening to a presentation about evangelism. i know i need to do for sharing Jesus. i know i need to pray more for the boldness to share Him. the Bible lays out what we need to do, the issue lies with us actually doing it. the verse says "with all your heart and all your soul"... that's alot! seriously, tho, God doesn't just strand us out here on the earth trying to do his will. He gives us the power to do all the things He wants of us. we just need to get over ourselves. i don't matter. it's all about Jesus. if i focused to letting God shine thru me, rather than on me, it would demonstrate God much better.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
--Matt 5:16

Monday, February 18, 2008

a green sticky and God's grace

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

This is way true. Reading the bible can hurt. It can convict. It can comfort. It can encourage. It can spur me on. It can make me realize what really matters. It can put my worries at rest. It reminds of the goals I have as a Christian first and foremost, as a debater second.

Well, this is the story of one verse helping me out on one day. Just imagine how much better off I'd be if i chose a verse for every day!

So, it was Friday night. I had just got back to the hotel after a long day of debating and I was reading my GoogleReader. This verse just jumped out at me:
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24)
I thought, "Wow, that's perfect. That's exactly what I need tomorrow." My partner and I would be debating in outrounds tomorrow. I wrote it on a sticky and stuck it to the back of my name tag.

The next morning my sister and I debated. Before the round started, I showed her my name tag. She smiled. We debated our best. We had an excellent round. We were able to address the the negative teams arguments and had great clash. But, realistically, we didn't expect to win it.

Later, I was waiting to time the apologetics semi-finals. We needed three judges. We had zero. I got bored. I began reading the verse on the back of my name tag. I thought about it. My life worth nothing... finish the race... the task of testifying the gospel of God's grace. Well, I thought I had finished the race. I was thankful I had gotten this far testifying Jesus all the way. As far as I could tell, I wouldn't need the verse anymore. However, I had this little bit of dynamite on the back of my name tag. "I need to share this with somebody!" I thought. I saw one of my new friends going to her speech round. She was losing her voice and could probably use some encouragement. I ran out to her, hugged her and said, "Have a good round." It was only after I went back to my room that I realized I missed my chance to give the sticky to her. I kept thinking. Who else would appreciate the verse like I have? I remembered our "sister team." Two girls, best friends, matching suits: just like us. I thought they would be advancing to the next outround, so I decided I could give it to them. But how do you split one sticky into two?? So, maybe not them. I thought about my out-of-region friend, but I hadn't known her that long, so perhaps she'd think I'm queer if I gave it to her. My thoughts were interrupted when she came in to talk with me. We had a nice little spiritual conversation and I decided that when she and her partner broke, I'd give my sticky to her.

The round finally began, but it went along slowly. It was 10 minutes until the next debate round was supposed to start. I wondered if we'd finish in time for me to hear them announce breaks for debate before the next round. I got a million butterflies in my stomach. I fidgeted. "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." I repeated the words over again in my mind. The round finished and I ran off to the main building.

Five minutes till noon. I hastily ate lunch and waited. At 12, breaks were announced. I was prepared for my debating to be done and for me to give my sticky away. However, God had other plans. My partner and I had won our round, and it turned out that we were the ones who needed the sticky. I kept it on my name tag. None of my other friends had advanced. My sister and I prayed before the round started. I could have cried with happiness and conviction: "
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me." God involves a person's whole being: mind and emotions.

We debated to the best our our abilities. Our arguments were solid, but it was a tough round. We knew we had lost. Our friends were kind and encouraging, but we knew the end was at hand. Later, when they announced the teams who had won their rounds, our name wasn't there. We knew it wouldn't be. I was sad, but at the same time, I was happy. God had given us the power to finish the race and to complete the task. We had made it this far testifying God and communicating Christ throughout. I knew I had given these rounds to His glory and our success didn't really matter. It didn't matter if we won or lost, as long as we there for God and not for ourselves.

My partner and I ate dinner during the next round. We sat outside with our sister-team and talked. The air was cool and lovely. The activity of the day slipped away, but I shall always remember God's grace to us which allowed us to do so well and gave us the opportunity to lean on and glorify Him.

"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." --Jer 29:11

Now, after all that excitement, I had to go home, get back into life, and be humble. This is something I constantly struggle with:
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." --Eph 4:2

There you have it, the story of a green sticky and God's grace.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

of courtship and immigration

well. i was lying in bed last night. i wasn't thinking of anything in particular. a thought popped into my mind. "wouldn't it be weird if some random guy i met asked for my phone number? i wonder what i'd say." i turned the question over in my mind. if i did give him my number, would i really want this guy calling me? and besides, i hate talking on the phone. and i'm hardly ever home and i nearly never use my cell phone... yeah, i couldn't give him my number... but what if this was the guy God wanted me to marry??!! in that case, shouldn't i definitely give him my phone number??

......................................................................................................................................

but then i remembered: any guy who is going to marry me will have to come through proper legal channels.

then i realized i was quoting from a piece of evidence for debate!!

--. "Making the Case for Comprehensive Immigration Reform." American Immigration Lawyers Association. 2006 –2007. p 39.

“A new worker visa system is needed so that essential workers can come to work through proper legal chan­nels. The lack of worker visas is a root cause of our current undocumented immigration crisis. We must replace the flow of unauthorized workers with a legal flow.”


lol. all these influences getting mixed up together in my mind. i guess you can figure out i've spent a good amount of time thinking and reading about immigration and courtship. i thought i'd die laughing. =D

so comment away! do you think this is funny? am i the only one who's getting a kick out of my mixed up brain?

Monday, January 14, 2008

a new member of this house

today we are getting the new puppy! i'm excited and yet...apprehensive. i need to have a spirit of hope and of flexibility. this week is going to be tough. i need to place my interests aside.

phil 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

yep, like i said, it will be tough. i don't like to put other above myself. i have to be willing to share my puppy, to love my puppy even in the dark cold nights, to be thankful for the current trials knowing...

rom 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
{and hope does not put us to shame}