We got to practice preaching every day. It was interesting and fun. The first couple days were improv based on scriptures we drew out of a basket or envelope.
A lot of people were very apprehensive, I’m not the most elegant or confident speaker, but I gave some alright sermons. Some where more carnal and not lead by the spirit and I wasn’t as satisfied with those.
On day two, Joy gave a good message talking about how she used to be insecure and doubted that she had the holy spirit. Her time is mostly up, but she breathes in again and again, and with each subsequent breath she turned a shade redder. I could not believe how red she was. Hopper turns purple, Joy turns red. She shared her revelation how God told her that she already has everything that she needs for life and godliness. It’s so true about most of us, we cry and worry because we think we’re lacking or that God’s holding out; but God is not holding out; it was a very moving speech.
The next day, inspired by Joy, I decided to be more vulnerable and speak more from the heart. Joy said she almost cried.
I talked about my life, and my testimony, this isn’t verbatim, but it’s an excerpt from my Gospel of Identity paper that I had to write for class.
I really tried to love God more, I worked at it, some of the time, but all my effort to abstain from sin and evil thoughts was short-term and even then, my heart was still corrupt. I was living in guilt and condemnation.
But God, rich in mercy, showed me an earthly example of what our relationship was supposed to look like. I’ve been single my whole life and been content (mostly) that way. My siblings began to find spouses and get married, and I started to have more friends who were married. One night I shared in a wife’s grief, she was jealous over her husband and started to wonder if he really loved her. She questioned if she was enough for him. She was very deeply hurt.
From that night, I saw it differently, I realized that I indeed was married to Jesus. That he was jealous for me, he didn’t want to have me just 98\% of the time, but all the time; because he is enough for me. He gave all of himself for me and he’s hurt when we settle for anything less than the best, anything less than him. “God has no vested interest in sharing us with anyone other than himself and he would be guilty of violating his own character [if] he left us in such a divided condition.” (Petzer)
Sometimes people ask what the bare minimum they can do to get into Heaven is, and that question grieves my heart. And it grieves the father too. What an offense! What a shame! To be given the fullness of Christ on earth but to neglect it and defer it until death. We delay punishment, we delay loans, so why are we delaying blessing? What on earth is there that can compare to Christ? What does the world have that’s worth more than a God who loves you more than himself? What could there possibly be? It’s like marrying a billionaire just so you can have citizenship, and then never seeing them again!
Instead of seeking all the fullness of what he has for them they’re settling for the minimum. They want Jesus so that they can get a name change but they don’t want any of the intimacy or any of the blessings that come with the relationship that is Christianity. What pray tell does the world have to offer that’s better than Christ? That’s why God is a jealous God, because he has everything and wants to give it to us but we run to other stuff that’s inferior. Christ has bought us; to not give him all of ourselves is unjust and wrong.
We also had culture class that week. It was funny because Joy, Hopper, and I are not at all like Americans. We’re our own completely distinct culture.
Cambodians Out To Get Me
This week, Marlin and Sreyon came from Cambodia. Like the other Cambodians, they quickly began their shtick telling me I should go to Cambodia. But with every thing they said about Cambodia it sounded suspiciously too perfect and too much like paradise. As a man with few needs, every hook they gave was unappealing because nothing seemed challenging.
“But we need a guy like you. You have the perfect personality for Cambodia.” Said Marlin.
I kept dismissing them day after day, just as I had dismissed the other Cambodians, I’m not one to be manipulated. Anything I do, anything I say is an instant segue from them into “you should come to Cambodia.” But having no preference for countries, and no concern for my life, I told Marlin that if higher leadership says I should go to Cambodia that I would. It wasn’t five seconds until Marlin had gotten Jake Schwertfiger’s approval, blessing, and support to steal me for Cambodia.
So I guess I’m going to Cambodia.
The food is rice, I like rice, then again, I like all foods, so that’s not really a consideration.
They said if I need some challenge that they have landmines, I guess that’s interesting. They have some high heat and high humidity, that should be fun. The people I’ll be ministering to love foreigners and playing games, so I guess I’ll fit in.
I have to learn how to drive a motorcycle and speak the Khmer (/kuh-mai/ Cambodian) language. I’ll try to pick up my boating skills too. They say Cambodia is challenging to preach in because only 2% of the people are Christians (including Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses). Most people are Buddhists, Animists, Hindus, or a combination. But there’s a need, and if I don’t go, who will? Christ died to save them, but who will tell them they’ve been set free? Will you? What’s holding you back, what else is there worth living for if not for Christ? Do your neighbors know the fullness that is in Christ?
As for me, I will go into all the world and set the captives free.
We’ve been playing a fair amount of cards with Corey, Amy, and Casey. We play Euchre, Pepper, and Hand-and-foot. Marlin knows how to play Up and Down the River as well. Maybe we’ll play that sometime.
I’ve never welded before, but our bearded Wisconsin friend, Kyle, taught that class. He knows how to play Euchre but refrains.
Come Back Alive
They said it was too hot so they’re not actually going to send us out into the wilderness to try to survive. Shucks. I’ve gotten very used to African heat and sun, but some people’s medications make them sensitive to sun (which is such an unusual side-effect).