Counting the Cost and Investing in Faith

August 29, 2009

So I believed that God loved me.

I didn’t know what the next step was, so I attended the Bible study every week after that and asked a lot of questions. Like, why does God allow bad things? Why is there so much pain and suffering? What does it mean to trust God? How does God’s sovereignty work with man’s freewill?

Pat, the Bible study teacher, told me later that I gave her headaches with my hundreds of questions. 🙂

I think I was counting my cost. Yes, I believed God loved me, but at this stage, I didn’t know HIM personally and intimately. I didn’t know whether I could entirely trust HIM and surrender my life to HIM.

Pat is an excellent teacher, but she couldn’t answer all my questions. If she knew everything about God, she would be God.

In the end, I had to decide whether to believe God’s Word that Jesus Christ died for my sins and answer His call to follow HIM or go it alone.

Well, I had lived 26 years of my life on my own and knew how hollow and meaningless life had been. I didn’t want that.

Several months after I first attended the Bible study, I finally surrendered my life to Christ. Up to that point, I had never stepped inside of a church. The only religious service I’ve experience was Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall and chapel service in the gymnasium of Speer Girls’ High School.

Did my life change? Yes. I voluntarily read the Bible and love reading it! More amazingly, the Words mean something to me like never before, and I desire to apply it in my life. I see God in everything that I never recognized before.

Best of all, even when my life seems to fall apart, I am no longer without hope. My hope is in my Best Friend, my Savior, and my God, Jesus Christ.


Deadly Intent by Camy Tang

August 28, 2009

I finished reading DEADLY INTENT by Camy Tang.

What I loved about the book:

– The main female character is half Japanese with green eyes, like my main male character who is half Korean with green eyes (and like my son :-))

– Camy’s writing is tight and pace moves so I don’t have to skim like I do other books. I love that!

– Even though it was a murder mystery, it wasn’t too scary or gory. I don’t handle scary stuff very well.

– I liked the end when the main male character (Devon) said, “God will protect us both.” It showed his spiritual growth without going into long drawn out explaination.

I think I’m going to re-read Tour de Force by Elizabeth White. I love that it is a book about dancers and the male character dances. How cool is that?

The night God revealed His Heart

August 24, 2009

Because I liked the way they studied the Bible the week before, I attended it again the following week. This time, I drove myself. I don’t know what I expected, but certainly had no suspicion that I would be changed that night.

Scripture was read about how Jesus loves us. Yeah, I heard that before, along with how God required us to obey him completely before He would save us from His wrath. What good was His love when I could never be good enough to earn it?

But that night, I heard the promise in the Scripture about His Holy Spirit, to be with the believers, to guide them, and enable them to live godly lives. That the salvation wasn’t about my perfection but His, it wasn’t about earning it but a gift from God. The gift package contained Jesus’ blood that paid for my sins and the Holy Spirit that marked me as one of His Own, and that it was His Holy Spirit that enables me to please God.

Psalm 139 particularly touched me.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

I longed for a close relationship with God the psalmist had. It seemed like every scripture we read that night was aimed at my heart. The Word tugged at it, breaking down my walls, and revealing God’s loving heart to me.

As soon as the Bible study ended, I left without saying much. I couldn’t talk because tears were choking my throat. The moment I drove away from the house, tears flooded out. So much so that I could barely see the road. So hard that my shoulders shook. 

Why did I cry? God’s love overwhelmed me. That night, for the first time in my life, I believed that God loves me. No, I didn’t surrender my life to Jesus that night. Nor did I say a sinner’s prayer. I wasn’t thinking about doctrines, religions, or sacraments.

I simply knew God loved me.

My First Inductive Bible Study

August 22, 2009

I had a tennis buddy, Janice. At least six inches taller than me and super athletic, Janice was intimidating when she stood on the other side of the tennis court, even without her trash talking. During warm ups, she’d say things like, “Gina girl, I’m gonna beat you. I’m gonna beat you baaaaad.”

I really miss her trash talk. 🙂

The only advantage I had on her was youth. I was about 15 years younger and could run all over the court and still outlast her. But when we competed as a team, I really appreciated her “intimidating” presence.

Janice and I also used to work at the same place and quite frequently had lunches together. Many times, we talked about our games, the previous or upcoming matches. One day, she asked me if I believed in heaven or hell, and what I believed would happen to me if I died.

Janice was not a believer at the time, which goes to show that God uses anyone for HIS purpose. I answered her questions honestly and was very curious about the Bible study she was involved in. Growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, I was taught that the so called Christians didn’t study the Bible. My friend invited me to come and check it out. I agreed.

On Tuesday evening, when my husband drove me to the home where the Bible study group met, I regretted my decision to come. He pulled into the driveway and waited for me to get out of the car.

“I don’t think I want to go,” I said to Andrew.

“I drove you all the way here so you’re going.”

His swift verbal push was the only thing that forced me out of the car. Once inside, I witness the most amazing Bible study—not just any Bible study, an inductive Bible study—which amazed me. Why? Because they were studying the Bible. Not commentaries. Not a magazine or a pamphlet. Not even a book written by people with their interpretation of the Bible. I was used to those studies, but no, this study was nothing like what I experienced.

They were studying the book of Romans. The Words were read directly from the Bible. To better understand the text, similar verses were cross references—guess from what book?—from the Bible. A study that let God’s Word interpret His Own Words. This impressed me, and that is the only thing I remember about that night.

Is this it?

August 19, 2009

When I was little, I couldn’t wait to grow up. I wanted to have a good job, make my own decisions, have someone to love me, and live happily ever after.

Andrew and I got married at 21 and 18 respectively. We worked hard to complete our college educations, got jobs, and bought a cute house. We played tennis and travelled quite a bit in our 20s, enjoying the money we were finally earning.

But I couldn’t shake this question from the back of my mind. “Is this it?”

I had everything I dreamed of and more. I had a great job and a husband who adored me.  We won trophies from tennis tournaments, had an awesome group of friends, and thoroughly enjoyed our lives. Honestly, I could
not find one thing to complain about. My life was perfect.

Yet, I felt hollow inside. No amount of travel or amusement could fill that, I knew. Another trophy wasn’t going to satisfy the empty feeling either.

Now that I accomplished everything I wanted, I was supposed to live happily ever after, but I felt incomplete. One day I told Andrew, “I feel like something’s missing from my life, but I have no idea what it is.”

He tried to talk me out of my funk, but he couldn’t. I knew no one could. I began to think this was all there was to human existence. We live, laugh, cry, and die.

Why didn’t I seek God? I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. The God I’ve been taught expected me to live a perfect life to be saved, which I knew I couldn’t. I’ve also been taught there are no heaven and no hell. When you die, you just don’t exist anymore, which wasn’t a bad alternative for an unredeemable sinner like me, I thought.

So there I was. Outwardly, I had a great life. But inside, I felt hopeless. I found my existence meaningless, and yet I wasn’t good enough for God’s approval.

If it was up to me, I would still be in that place of spiritual despair. But God didn’t leave me there. HE knew my heart was ready to kneel before HIM. So HE reached for me . . .

Sent Too Early, Arrived Too Late.

August 14, 2009

I mailed 4 copies of the first 25 pages of my manuscript to a contest last weekend. This is my first writing contest that required paper entries, and I had no idea how expensive postage cost would be. Then on Monday, I received a confirmation email from the contest coordinator saying she’d received my package. Great. I was relieved.

Then on Tuesday someone from my large critique group sent their comments on my work that I had submitted two weeks ago. As I read the feedback, I cringed because the comments were good, and I realized I could have made my pages even better if I had received the critique before I mailed off my entry. Poop.

Too late for the contest. I did makes the changes to my work in progress however.

How I Met My Husband

August 13, 2009

The first summer, I got a job at the mall Pizza Hut as a cook. My sister thought the job would expose me to practice English while the school was out. She was right. Almost all of the cuss words I know, I learned from my fellow employees at that Pizza Hut.

Interesting characters made my first job an experience of a life time. Bernie, the manager, was an alcoholic and used his expletives liberally. There were three other high school students other than me. Two of the girls were heavy metal groupies, and I suspect their paychecks went to pay for concert tickets. A handsome high-school-dropout couple teamed as a waitress and a cook who later divorced and married each other again. A young delivery driver who impregnated his girlfriend was then prohibited by the girl’s parents to see his baby. We didn’t lack drama in that place.

Then there was Andrew. A clean cut college student who didn’t spew foul language, who did his job and was nice to everyone. Some people made fun of his “Jeepers!!!” but my little foreign, nerdy heart was infatuated with him.

One night, I noticed other cooks and delivery drivers who usually stay in the back near kitchen disappeared, and there was a commotion in the party room. Andrew came to me and explained, “Today is Bernie’s birthday. Someone arranged a belly dancer to come, and now Bernie is embarrassed.”

I was lost after “Today is Bernie’s birthday.”

Seeing my confusion, Andrew tried to explain what ‘embarrassed’ meant and what a ‘belly dancer’ was with pantomime. I laughed. And from then on, he took upon himself to teach me English, the clean words. We became friends.