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

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?
{and hope does not put us to shame}