Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sixth Grade Adolescence

Today was a super funny day. In speech class, we listened to some classmates' second informative speeches. While delivering these speeches, we are supposed to take on our future profession, and our audience is supposed to take on the qualities that this future profession might face in an audience. For example, our first speaker today gave a presentation on socialized health care (which ended up being more persuasive than informative, but...), and we were members of a caucus.

My favorite speech, however, was when one of our (extremely serious) classmates announced that he was a teacher and that we were fifth and sixth grade students. Immediately, I said to our professor, "Then I guess we'll have to chew gum and twirl our hair!" He said we could do that if we wanted to, thereby signaling the beginning of the end...

I don't know whether it was the coffee I had ingested immediately prior to class, or whether the thought of not having to act grown up suddenly took effect, but boy, I took on the sixth grade persona. It all started when our fun, spunky classmate Beth leaned over and passed a note saying "Isn't that guy soooo cute?!" I began to giggle, and so did Amy next to me. Then, I noticed that Antonio was staring in our direction, and either had something in his eye that was irritating him, or he was winking. That made us all giggle harder, which made our teacher take himself even more seriously. Beth passed a note that said, "Antonio is such a flirt!" As we tried to listen to his lesson on the history of Halloween, everything began to break loose. Mikel wadded up a sheet of notepaper and threw it over at Ryan. Ryan then threw it to Sheela, and Sheela passed it to Beth. Beth threw it to me with a gesture to pass it on to Haley. Then in question and answer time, I decided to be a smart aleck. I raised my hand, and asked, "Mr. Jeff?" Everyone laughed. I continued, "Mr. Jeff, how does Reformation Day tie in with all those historical days surrounding, and contributing to the history of, Halloween?" Rick burst out with "That's a pretty smart question for a fifth grader!" And everybody laughed again. Jeff said, "Ummm, I don't know," which caused the class to laugh again. Milena raised her hand and said in a tweeny tone, "So, did you bring us any candy?" More laughter.

To say the least, we were pretty goofy. At the end of Jeff's lesson, our professor expounded upon the truth that he'd just witnessed. Sixth graders are the only ones who can prepare you for sixth graders. No teaching certificate, no amount of education can prepare you for on the job training. He noted how helpful we were to oblige this bit of experience to Jeff. My guilt and sheepish smirk flooded away. I now felt like I'd done a service. Okay, maybe not. I still felt like we'd gone overboard, and I think Jeff did too, but hopefully this will help him as he prepares for his future. I also hope we didn't kill off his dream of teaching!

As we left our class, I remarked to Amy about just how easy it is to be immature. She nodded and said, "Way too easy!" It brought me back to the fun, albeit immature, days of eighth grade. The giddy, ridiculous feeling that you could laugh forever. But it quickly faded as I considered the next thing on my schedule and walked away.

Amy was right. It is much too easy to be immature. Although we were playacting, and were supposed to be doing so, it was easy to see that the human heart leans toward the easy path. The human heart doesn't want to do the work necessary to get good grades, raise a family, serve others, or earn a paycheck. The human heart wants to play. It may be fun for a season, but play will not satisfy the longings of our hearts. The Lord knows what will satisfy. He tells us repeatedly, in His Word, that only He can satisfy. Pursuing Him, as well as pursuing diligence and wisdom, will be rewarding in the end--long after the laughter fades.

Quote of the Day

"Choir robes do not equal love."--My profound mother

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Romans 1:18-20

I love fall. This morning was so beautiful, it almost made me cry as I walked to class. The leaves were a brilliant red, and all the spiderwebs were perfectly shown by dewdrops lacing every line. How could people see the fantastic change of seasons and not realize that all this was created? Truly, God shows Himself off to every creature, whether they wish to see or not.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

College is Crazy

It happened again. More like He did it again. Another witnessing opportunity! God is so vastly wonderful. Again, I prayed, the other morning, for an opportunity, boldness, and the words to speak. This has been my frequent prayer.

So I got to Speech class, and as I sat down and watched our prof write on the board, I realized that only a few people had their informative speeches to do that day. That could only mean one thing. Those of us who made up the audience had to prepare for the possibility that we might be chosen to do our impromptu speeches. This is something I've been fearing since the first day when I saw the syllabus. I enjoyed the informative speeches while I could, and once it was very plain that some among us would be chosen to do impromptus, I braced myself. He's warned us that if we try to avoid eye contact to keep him from picking us, he'd pick on us, so I knew that couldn't work. So as he approached my seat with the random topic envelope, I presented a courageous, warm smile and swallowed the lump in my throat. I pulled out some odd question about my opinion on teachers being paid in the summer. I showed it to him with a questioning look on my face. He said, "Yeah, that's kind of a weird one. Go ahead and pick again." So I reached in and pulled out one that said, "Have you ever surfed before? What was your experience like? Did you enjoy it?" I crossed my eyes, sighed and showed it to him. I said, "Man, I've never surfed before. That's gonna be a very short two minute speech!" He told me to pick out another one and like it. So I pulled out the next one. No lie, this is what I picked:

"Is engaging in premarital sex a good idea for everyone? Why or why not?"

If you're laughing, stop. No, just kidding. But really, when I saw that, I half-laughed, half-groaned. For an instant, I thought about asking for another topic, but then I realized this was a really good thing to get. God had given it to me. And anyway, I knew my prof would bonk me on the head if I asked for another. :)

I had to prepare my two minute long speech in two minutes. So as one of my classmates spoke for two minutes about marijuana, I prepared my speech. At first, I could hardly believe I was doing this. I get red in the face doing any form of public speaking, let alone speaking particularly about premarital sex. But I had two minutes and didn't have time to think. I began writing. Almost immediately 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 came to mind. I asked my Prof if I could use a source. He laughed and said, "Yeah, if you can get a source in two minutes of preparation!" Yes! This was too cool. I leaned back and pulled my Bible out of my backpack.

My outline ended up looking like this (sketchy, I know, but it's what I had after two minutes):

Introduction: (explain the question) I believe that premarital sex is a bad idea for the following reasons.

First of all, personally, I've been taught from the Bible that I am not my own--I belong to God. And 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 says: (read it) So personally, believing the Bible, it would be wrong for me to engage in premarital sex.

(2nd) STDs--there are many (hundreds? thousands?) diseases transmitted by sexual activity and you need to know your partner well enough to be confident of your health and wellbeing.

(3rd) Emotional health--Many people feel used and hurt after getting sexually involved with others and breaking up.

Conclusion: So I believe that premarital sex is a bad idea, based on my beliefs as well as physical and emotional health.

After our speeches, we have a Q&A time. One woman in my class raised her hand and asked me if I look down on people who are active. I said, "No, I really don't. My view is that if you don't believe the Bible, then you really won't have much reason for abstinence." That seemed to satisfy the Q&A time, especially since all the guys were looking intently at their textbooks, and the girls were trying their best to look disinterested. My prof was grinning, and as I sat down, my sweet friend Haley (also a believer) leaned over and said, "Good job! I was nodding the whole time. I totally agree!"

I ended up getting an A.

The Giant

About a week and a half ago, I was going through my WOW Bible Study questions (Yay, WOW group!), and one of the questions initially stumped me. Then all of a sudden, I realized how to answer it. This question was in a portion of that week's study called, "The Heart of a Believer." That portion generally deals with what is going on in your heart, relating to the study, and then later on you have opportunity to journal about application. We had been studying Deuteronomy three. So here's the question I found (reprinted with the kind permission of the study's authors, Pam Jacobson and Denise Brown):

"The Israelites faced giants. I'm sure they felt overwhelmed with the size of their enemies. Sometimes it may seem that your problems are thirteen feet high and insurmountable. What problems have you faced or are facing that seem too big to handle? What have you learned from this chapter that will help you to face those problems head on?"

The answer that I came up with is as follows:

At times, I feel that I'm not ready for this whole "growing up" thing. But God is so faithful to encourage me. Even today, before she handed out our individual grades, my Biology instructor said something about the average class grade on a recent test that made me think that I'd done really badly. But God totally encouraged me through another classmate (and through seeing my grade, eventually).

As this chapter clearly shows, nothing is impossible with God, and nothing is too difficult for Him! I think that sometimes I need to look at 1 Timothy 4:12 and apply it as, "Do not look down on yourself because you are young,..." because so often I feel incapable and insufficient--and on my own I am. But with God, He is able--more than able--and He is all sufficient and will help me to live the life in the last part of that verse. That 13 foot tall giant is so small when I look to God.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Today I put up a short prayer that I would understand God, as well as His Word, more. Specifically, I prayed that I would be able to determine what is true and untrue in life based on my knowledge of God--Who is nothing but true!

As I prepared to read His Word, I picked up some reading glasses that Mom had just bought, to try them out. Using my sleeve, I wiped my fingerprints off the lenses, and put the glasses on. Suddenly, it dawned on me. Just as I can see text more clearly once I've put the glasses on, I am able to see the Lord more clearly once I've seen Him through His Word. Oddly enough, just like cleaning a pair of glasses, I must accurately understand and interpret the Word to see the Lord in an accurate, undistorted manner.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Not What I Expected

The Lord is so good! This morning, I asked Him to provide an opportunity to witness to someone at school, as well as the boldness and the words to say. I remember doing this before, and that day I got to witness to a co-worker. But anyway, today I just prayed and figured He would provide an opportunity with a classmate. Never set expectations for God. That was silly of me.

So I get through my first class, finished my presentation, and all that, and I planned on studying since I had an hour to burn... or so I thought. Funny how those silly little plans can totally not happen. I sit down and start thinking about taking my textbook out, and a girl from Biology (I'll call her Korinne) comes by. We greet and start chatting, and it sounds like she has some time, so we decide to hang out in the Multi-Purpose Room. She says that she hasn't had breakfast and wants to grab something from the cafeteria--she'll be right back, and I can sit. She comes back a few minutes later with a friend, and we meet and start chatting. Here's where it gets interesting.

Korinne's friend started talking about a guy they know and said that he had been kind of a jerk that morning and that he was being really cranky. Then they realized that he was across the room, and Korinne said she might go say hi. But she was eating and conversation moved on. After a while, a couple of guys walked up to our table and one of them started talking to the girls. He turned and introduced himself to me--the same guy they'd referred to as a little cranky. I'll call him Jack. His friend introduced himself, too, and Jack started talking about how awful he felt. He said that he felt really guilty because the other night at a party, a drunk girl kissed him and he kissed her back. He told us that he felt like he betrayed his girlfriend. We nodded in agreement, which didn't make him feel much better about it.

Jack said that his relationships with girls only last about a month. Korinne's friend said to me, "He's cute, but he's not a good guy to date." He agreed, with some profanity. Then he turned to me and said, "I guess I haven't made much of an impression on you, have I?" I said, "Not really." I added, "And I'm not too fond of the language." He smirked and apologized. He kept whining--still using profanity, but not as much now--about how terribly guilty he felt. He even said, "This type of thing is why I'm an alcoholic." I told him that it was actually good that he felt bad about it. He put his head down on the table. The girls pointed out that what I said probably wasn't much comfort. I knew. :)

For the first half-hour or so, I kept thinking, "Man, I just want out of here. I hate hearing all this. I don't want to socialize with these people." But God softened my heart, and I realized this is exactly what I had prayed for--not what I had expected, but what I had requested. I asked, "God, You've given me the opportunity, I feel You've given me the boldness. Please, just bring those words." I popped out with, "You need Jesus, man." He groaned. The girls said, "Jack's not exactly the religious type." I said, "I can tell." Time went on, and they talked a little about their opinions and beliefs. I prayed, "Lord, I think I need more words!" The only thing I could think to say was "Jack, it's obvious you don't want me talking about religion, but I want to ask you one question. Do you mind?" So I did--I asked him, and he said okay. Honestly, this didn't come from Rick Warren, because I haven't read his book. I think this was what God must have wanted me to say. Other than this, my mind was blank. But anyway, I asked Jack, "What do you think your life purpose is?" It took him aback. I could tell he was starting to take me seriously; the smirk evaporated from his face. He thought for a minute and started, "I think my purpose is to..." His friend interrupted, "Mess up everyone elses' lives?" He replied, a little ticked that his friend wasn't taking this seriously, "No! I think my purpose is to leave my mark." I said, "A positive mark?" He said, "Yeah. Yeah, 'cause I believe that you only die once you've been forgotten." I said, "Hmmm. That's interesting." We began talking about what hell is like; I heard some screwy theories. I told them some of the things the Bible says about it. He said, "Well, then maybe I'm gonna end up in hell, but I'm gonna have as much fun here, now, as I can." He looked down and said, "Although, right now I'm not feelin' too good."

We ended up talking about a pretty large variety of things, considering the amount of time we had. We discussed the Trinity, the canon of Scripture, and Catholicism & Mormonism. (Korinne is Catholic and Jack's mom is Mormon.) Before I knew it, Korinne broke into our thoughts and said, "Katie, we've really got to go to class." I'm not sure that I said all I wanted to say, but I know that God steered that conversation, and I'm pretty sure I said all that He wanted me to say. Korinne and I even started talking on our way to class about the differences between what we believe, a question she had about how those in the Old Testament were justified, and predestination. I told her what I believed about that, and said that I couldn't remember the Scriptures at the moment that deal with that, but that I'd investigate and get back to her. Now, I know from what she said, that she doesn't believe that Scripture is the ultimate Authority. However, I know that she wanted me to make my case with Scripture, because she knows that I do believe Scripture is the ultimate Authority.

Anyway, it was very interesting, and I know that God directed everything today. Jack said at one point (regarding his girlfriend) that this was one of the worst moods he's ever been in. I'm sure that, even though on a human level that may not sound like the best time to share with somebody, that this is what God had planned. Maybe God will make Jack realize that he's at absolute bottom and "needs Jesus," as I said. No matter how little I think I got in, I did get to speak of Christ's sacrifice for our sin and how if we believe, His sacrifice counts toward us. Anyway, it was just amazing to see how God worked today. Not that I should be amazed, in some ways. Of course God will display His glory--why should that be surprising? But it is amazing how He chooses to go about it. Praise God!

Apprehension turned to Appreciation

College has been terrific. I love college. I hated my Junior and Senior years of high school, but I am absolutely loving Freshman year! I've already made quite a few friends, both in class and out of class, and hung out with a few old friends as well.

A lot of people told me things like, "Be prepared--people are so weird there! Don't go into the Multi-Purpose Room, and just mind your business and go home. Don't get discouraged by all the awful stuff!"

It cracks me up, because I have no idea what they're talking about! I've found people to be so open, friendly and helpful. And today I realized that the whole thing about the Multi-Purpose Room is ridiculous. At first, I thought that I should avoid it--I wouldn't want to be around those kinds of people, would I? But something happened today to make me realize that if I want to be used of God, sometimes I need to be around the tax-collectors and sinners. I'm not saying that I'll spend all my time there, or purposefully hang out with "the wrong crowd." But seriously, I've realized that it's easy to get in the Christian bubble of no-witnessing-allowed-for-fear-of-becoming-like-them. I absolutely am in favor of remaining innocent and pure, but I'm realizing that that's a totally different thing than isolating yourself from everyone who needs the gospel.

Another thing--I'm not getting discouraged. I'm getting encouraged! I mean, sure, my Speech prof said something lousy the other day, and I hear a ton of language, but really I'm used to that kind of stuff from the people I used to work with. And so far, the good has out weighed the bad. I am amazed by the wonderful believers I've met so far. They invited me to their worship time, and I realized just how sweet it can be to praise God with believers who may have a bit of a different style than you're used to. I'm seeing more of what SKH said about having affections and doctrine. Oddly enough, it is easy to get so filled with the truths of the Bible that you forget to be passionate about the God of those truths. Does it matter whether or not you lift your hands in worship? No. Does it matter whether or not you praise God with both your heart and head engaged? Yes.

I am just amazed at how you can go into something, somewhat apprehensive, and leave completely relieved and even refreshed. God is so much greater than all our fears. I'm so thankful for all the people who have been praying for me. I can tell that God's hand has been guiding my way.