Guest Post from Shelley Miller
January 29, 2013
As we start the competitive season, it is my pleasure to share with you some wise words from our Oregon State Representative, Mrs. Shelley Miller. Mrs. Miller recently served as the Tournament Coordinator for the first qualifier of the year in Region II. At the conclusion of the tournament, she shared the following letter from her heart with them. Please take these words to heart, as they are sound advice for us all.
Dear Region II Competitors,
As we begin this competition season, I’d like to share my heart with you. Sitting each morning with my Bible and planner, contemplating how to weave my NCFCA responsibilities into our family and home school schedule, my thoughts turn toward you, and those thoughts turn into prayers. While I was memorizing 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 this fall, I became increasingly aware that these verses embodied the reasons that I devote my time and energy to the NCFCA.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh…”
This verse tells me that there is warfare. We are soldiers. We have weapons. And I believe that the NCFCA offers a unique opportunity where you can train to use some of those weapons.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”
We find fortresses in the culture in which we live. Political fortresses. Religious fortresses. Economic and international fortresses. And these fortresses are hostile to wisdom, hostile to responsibility, and hostile to Biblical truth which God has given us the ability to embrace.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations…”
Speculations are often anchored in fortresses, creating the climate of our culture. These speculations include thoughts such as “Spending has no consequences”, “It’s not about life; it’s about choice”, and “International treaties are not a threat to our nation.” I invest in the NCFCA so that you will be trained to destroy these sorts of speculations, and it is my prayer that you will eventually be qualified to destroy them in the public square.
While there are many such speculations that originate from “without”, there are also those speculations that originate from “within.” These, also, must be destroyed.
Speculation #1: “Awards are a measure of my talents and ability.”
It is true that competition gives us a way to measure, and awards give us a way to recognize. However, awards are not a statement. They’re not static. They don’t put you in a position. It might be natural or tempting to conclude that a medal makes you more important, raising one to a mountain-top position. This would also incorrectly imply the converse: not having a medal accuses one of being less important, leaving you in a valley of uncertain merit.
The medals that we award at the end of a tournament are not meant to be a statement. In a sense, they are a weapon of our warfare. They are dynamic. They have a purpose. They don’t stop here; they launch you from here. Awards are meant to propel the decorated and the unrecognized forward. To the decorated they say, “You’re doing something right”, “It must be working”, “Keep going!” To the unrecognized they say, “There’s more to learn, and here’s some motivation to press on.” The “more to learn” may be “I didn’t research well enough” or “I need to impact my message.” It can also be the realization that “tournaments aren’t always fair,” and many of you have at least one debate ballot to prove it.
Speculation #2: “Speech and debate is the most important thing in my life.”
It might be very tempting to take the purpose of awards, “to propel you forward” and isolate your focus. You may have intentions of writing a new speech and registering for another event at the next tournament. You might plan to research with renewed vigor, or rewrite your 1AC. I agree that debate is important, but do your math.I want you to break at the next tournament, and I want to see you at regionals. But when we get there, and I walk in the door on my way to the tab room, I want you to look me in the eye and say, “Mrs. Miller, I did my math!”
Ecclesiastes 7:18, “It is good for your hand to grasp one thing, and also not let go of the other, for the one who fears God, will come forth with both of them.” You can study for debate, and still do your math. Fear God, and ask Him how to prioritize your time so that you get them both done. Finish your chores. Be kind to your sister. Study your Bible. If you don’t do these things along the way, you won’t be fully qualified to face the fortresses and destroy the speculations of our culture.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.”
God bless you, dear ones, as you journey through this season. You are in my heart and in my prayers.
NCFCA Oregon State Representative
Tournament Coordinator, Oregon Trail Qualifier