Wichita 1994

Wichita Interview

by ??

(Unknown Date) 1994

Note: Not a lot is known about this interview. It is largely about Sherri Howard (daughter of Maurice Howard and sibling to Rich's friend Sam Howard) and her work with the group Choice Lifestyle and Locker 2 Locker in the Wichita area. If anyone has additional information, please let me know!

Interviewer: Let's just start with - how do you know Sherri and how you've observed God call her in the ministry?

Rich: I met Sherri through her brother Sam who was a classmate of mine in school in Cincinnati and I had gone up they were living in Anderson, Indiana which is close to my home and had gone up with him to visit and do a concert and actually met the whole Howard family. And they were a very striking family they were you know her dad of course and mom were very committed Christians, Sam and Sue were both in a Bible College where I was at the time and Sherri was was very young and was I think practicing to be a cheerleader or something and did not seem particularly religious at the time which was which was nice and that was my first contact.

With Sherri she was just very young and kind of a regular flaky kind of kid and a lot of fun sort of but not particularly striking in terms of what she would eventually be doing. Very ordinary. Then they moved out to Wichita Sherri and her parents did and Sam and I have remained good friends and and of course sue is here now, so I know Sue and her family as well.

It was after they came out here I guess that Sherri really began to have some kind of spiritual awakening and really began to feel the call of God on her life and the wonderful thing about Sherri is that she responded to the call and I don't think it's a unique call I don't think it's the sort of a call that that every Christian doesn't have. But it is a call that every Christian doesn't respond to and the thing that I think sets Sherri miles apart from a good many other people is that she responded.

Interviewer: And that was probably about in '85, from what I understand, and at that point she came back and she had a burden to get involved in starting conferences to mobilize and motivate other young people.

Well, the first thing that I remember even Sam telling me about that Sherri was doing was starting a Bible study in her own high school which is one of the things, as I watched Choice and Sherri progress, it's been very interesting... you know, one of the things about the scriptures that I find fascinating is the details about David's life. That we don't only know that David was a a great king in Israel who made some mistakes, but also the thrust of his life was a thrust of faithfulness. But we know that he was a shepherd and I'm sure that there are many times when he was very poor being a shepherd. I'm sure there were many times when he was going, 'gosh I would love to do great things for God,' you know? Because we all think that. But David was faithful in the small things. And that's what I see in Sherri's life and in one sense that she's faithful in small things, in another sense nothing is small. And I think Sherri always took and has and continues to take the call of God very seriously. Snd when she was moved to start a Bible study she did that. And she was faithful in seasons of great returns and in seasons of small returns. She did not give up on what she thought she'd been called to do just because the response wasn't overwhelming. And that faithfulness - I think her starting a Bible study in her own school her taking a real stand in her own youth group as for moral purity that sort of thing was very costly at times. I know that there were many times when her friends hurt her very badly. You know people you know misunderstand you. People you don't know are very quick to judge you and take potshots and cheap shots. Anyone that's ever been out there knows that that's going to happen. But in the midst of that, the one driving force in her life was not the success of her Bible study or in the networking or that conferences or whatever. The driving force of her life seemed to be obedience to the call of God - whether or not it was successful and, in Wichita, the results of that faithfulness have been quite overwhelming.

Interviewer: And you believe that God has a call for every believers life?

Rich: I don't know why he wouldn't.

Interviewer: You mentioned two things. You mentioned Sherri's faithfulness in the simple things, and you've mentioned that there have been times when that cost her. In your mind, are there snapshots, any pictures, any particular situations that paint a picture of either one of those things - either the faitfulness of the simple things, or the cost of following Christ?

Rich: I remember having conversations with Sherri early on because her faith in terms of the way it affected me was really very powerful. It was wonderful to see somebody who had some understanding of the cost and said the cost is going to be pretty high, but the the call is more important than the cost. And I remember conversations with her where she was really hurting because friends had turned on her and for a couple reasons - one is because I think a lot of people did not understand what she was about. I think a lot of people didn't understand and still don't understand the idea of moral purity. We live in a society that believes that somehow ultimate good will be achieved by taking away any kind of restraints. And Cheri specifically felt that ultimate good will not come from a freedom that arises from a lack of restraints, but from a freedom that comes out of a real commitment to a specific call and a very specific goodness. Snd so a lot of people of course and a lot of them were Christian people... a lot of them are well-intended people, but out of that lack of understanding, a lot of suspicion... you know when Joseph had his dreams that God had called him especially, there was a lot of jealousy among his brothers. I think that when we fail to recognize God's call in our own lives, we tend to be jealous of his call on other people's lives. And so I think there was jealousy. I think there was misunderstanding. And I remember talking... I especially remember one time after a conference that had been a pretty tough conference because, although people in high school and junior high are responding and were saying, 'wow this is good news. This is an exciting challenge. This is a lot of things.' A lot of the adults were very very critical of what Sherri was saying and it had been a both the very...

Interviewer: Now, why would the adults be very critical of what she was saying?

Rich: Well I think that uh.... however you want to powder it up, the long and short of it is... when people take a weak position they are jealous of people who don't. I think that the thinking of people from my generation and generations before has always been a pretty insidiously weak kind of position. Kind of that that kind of thing that says well sin isn't a real thing so let's not worry about it too much. When you take away from the reality of sin if you take away the reality of grace. You can't have one without the other. You don't need grace that there is no sin.

Interviewer: Was there any of the dynamic that a lot of parents... our kids can just be good for God and that's enough and Sherri was called to a radical committment which was beyond being 'good Kids.' Would that offend anybody?

Rich: I'm not sure. I'm not sure what the hang-up is. I know this any time anybody does anything good people are going to criticize.

Interviewer: So back to this conference, parents were very critical?

Rich: Some parents. some parents were very supportive .... was hurting her from people who mattered a lot to her and yes.

So afterwards someone had a friend of ours a mutual friend of ours had a cabin on a lake and a bunch of us who had worked in the conference went down to the lake for a weekend we were you know gonna just do some laying around hanging out and Sherri - one of the things that struck me real hard were two things that we talked about. First of all was her own failings and some of the misunderstanding was because Sherri was not as articulate as she would like to have been. That sometimes in the midst of our trying to do what God wants us to do we sometimes muddle the picture a bit. And one of the things that was wonderful and even a little bit astonishing about SHerri it was her willingness to accept your responsibilities in the muddling. Was that she realized that she had shortcomings. And she realized that she had weaknesses. And was not willing to blame other people for all the criticism that she received. She was very willing to say while they were right I did this wrong. Or if only I had done something else this is where the confusion lies. And so rather than then Sherri's being super hyper righteous, Sherri was hyper-humble and was hurt more deeply by her own failures than other people had bee. And not only was she hurt by them, but rather than let that defeat her and rather than let then to say well I can't do this this is more than I can handle, Sherri was seeking God and saying help me to overcome my weaknesses so that I don't obstruct the work that you're trying to perform. Which is a wonderful thing to find in a person. Many of us our own failures get in the way of God's work. In Sherri's case she took her failures and allowed God to to work through them with her. She was willing to accept that and I thought that was a great thing.

Another thing that we talked a lot about was was was the whole issue of people deliberately misrepresenting her when they would talk about her. Because if you do anything people are going to talk about you. And people had said things that were untrue. And people had said things that were unfair and some of the people who were saying these things were friends of hers. They were people that she respected people that she looked up to. I remember her confusion about a conversation that she'd had with the youth minister who was really put out at her that she had taken such a strong stand on moral decisions. I think that he had interpreted the whole thing as Sherri being one of those uptight overly pious kinds of people. I think Sherri was taking that position because she knows something of the hurt that comes into our lives when there's rot in in our souls. When there's corruption in our souls and I think that she really genuinely loved the people that she was calling to purity and because of that love wanted them to understand and then was frustrated because there are people who, out of love for the same people, were saying hey don't make such a big deal about this. So that hurt her own failures and the failures of other people did not stop her. The call of God was strong longer than than the hurts that she felt and I respect that in a person.

Interviewer: Somebody that we talked to said that Sherri was a normal kid responding to the call of God, which is basically the same thing you're saying. Let's move on then from your recollection of Sherri the personal reaction, to help us see some connection between SHerri and what is happening in Wichita today... what has happened in the last few years through Locker to Locker, and first of all maybe just get your comments on that in and of itself. First of all, what do you see happening in Wichita? Is it unique? Is it a model for what God will do in other areas? Is anything happening here?

Rich: I think a couple things are happening here in Wichita some of it is not... well obviously everything that happens is it in some sense on a spiritual level. Part of a part of it is definitely has to do with people and I think a lot of this has come because of Sherri's example and because of other people responding to that. People are realizing that if we aren't salt that corruption will continue to spread. The sad thing, the thing that's sometimes hard for me to realize, is that salt doesn't reverse corruption when something has already been corrupted salt won't take that away. What salt does is it stops corruption and I think that a lot of us become frustrated being the salt of the earth, we become frustrated trying to stop the spread of corruption because we're going well but this is still a mess, and this is still a mess, and this is still loss, and this is still lost. Well yes a lot has been lost but there's something worth saving.

Interviewer: So in Wichita, is... I don't mean to interrupt, but I'm wondering, from your perspective, is something unique happening?

Rich: I think that what is what is happening here in Wichita is that people are looking around and saying let's save what's worth saving. And what is we're saving what people are and let's... 'for a lack of vision the people die,' is is what one of the prophets said and I think that the idea here is let's hold out the word of God. Let's hold out the truth that we know and let people respond to it. People believe again here in the power of the truth of God.

Interviewer: Is this the kind of thing that you see as a model for the kind of thing that God could do across America?

Rich: Well I don't think anything that we would call truth would be regional. I think that if it's not a universal truth it's not true at all. I think whatever is true here is true everywhere that life is in fact sacred. That's one of the things that we're recognizing here in Wichita and not everyone is clear as to how far that goes and we're not all clear as to where exactly that's going to lead us, but but a good many people have come together and said, wait a minute, if life isn't sacred we're in trouble. A lot of people have have come back to the realization that the Bible is a reliable witness to the truth of the word of God and the word being Jesus. And that we can rely on the Bible we can look to it and we can we can learn from it. God has revealed himself in those scriptures and those scriptures will point us again and again to Christ who is the living word. There are many differences...many shades... there are people that believe it's infallible, there are people who believe it's inerrant and there are people who don't believe all those things, but largely people are coming together and saying, wait a minute, whatever else we might think about this, here at least is our common ground we do believe that it is revelatory whether or not it's inerrant.

Interviewer: Is what's happening in Wichita do you see this happening across America I mean you said the truth is not regional it's universal. But in terms of a spiritual awakening... a response to truth. Is that happening in other places - as you travel around and go to other cities and even other countries - what do you see happening? Is this a unique age in terms of the season of man and what God is doing in the world today?

Rich: I would think it was unique except that I have read the Bible and it's been happening ever since you know ever since Adam and Eve. That mankind has a tendency to be lulled into sleep, and the voice of God has a tendency to pull us out of that.

Interviewer: So are there cycles of response to revelation and then apostasy and dryness?

Well I think you'd have to ask a historian that.. I couldn't tell you that. In my own experience you know I remember when the Jesus Movement hit and there were a lot of people who thought that was a very unique kind of thing my parents remembered while that was going on they were going, yes when we were kids this happened and this happened... this happened... I don't know how to answer that question, I guess I think that God is faithful in every generation and that if you look at a farmer there are seasons when he's tearing the ground up there are seasons when he's putting the seed in there are seasons when he's harvesting the seed, so in that sense maybe there are cycles. In a bigger sense to believe that that there are waves of spirituality and ways of unspiritualness is I think is to question the the basic idea of the faithfulness of God. I think God is faithful in every generation to those who will respond to him. And I think a good example is that while Sherri's parents maybe were not a part of a movement quite that looked a lot like the movement that we have here. Their lieves were no less spiritual. Their lives were no less vital, yeah so I kind of go.... a lot of people are always wanting to look at the times and interpret them. I tend to to think that it's... you can interpret past times, it's hard to understand the present. And, as for the future, we know exactly what's going to happen. That good and evil will always be in conflict. That life and death will always be in conflict and ultimately good and life will win and ultimately evil and death will be barred.

Interviewer: Let's go back a little bit... you mentioned the term modeling for young people. What is the connection between Sherri and what is happening to so many young people?

Rich: Well I think Sherri specifically that there are certain things that Sherri did that I think we're still seeing fruit come from that. Starting a Bible studying her own high school carrying her Bible to school which is a very brave move at the time. Taking a stand in her own youth group that was unpopular among some people, misunderstood among others, but nevertheless it was a stand that she was called to and and she was faithful in that. You know Sherri's Bible study started kids from her youth group found out that this was going on they started starting Bible studies in their own schools. This was going on all around and finally someone said man we need to network this because some were going very well some we're not going very well. Eome kids were very frustrated were you know getting to school early for a Bible study and maybe them and maybe one or two other people were showing up maybe nobody and they were feeling like, wow this is a losing thing.. While in another school they couldn't find rooms big enough to get everybody in and so it was a matter of people coming together and saying let's encourage one another so the networking thing began. Out of that you know the high schools ministries network.. you know that that kind of grew out of that and people began to see well here here we have all these individual things going on. Along with the individual things we we see some real common needs among students and we can come together as a larger body of people and address these needs. And so out of that came you know the conferences that they used to have the first one had maybe a couple hundred kids, the second one was had really blossomed had really grown numbers-wise. Both conferences once again... the thing that was interesting to me it was that the first conference, and I think I was there.... even though it wasn't well attended it was a very rich experience for the people who were there. Nobody to up their hands and well nobody came let's go home. People said well here we are.. let's allow God to do with this group of people what He would do.

Interviewer: So how would you tie those early things that Sherri did into what we've seen happen in the last few years.. all of this with Sherri started back in '85, so where is the bridge?

Rich: Well I would say in the last nine years then, since this is 1994, it began with one person saying yes to God. Snd from that experience she went to her high school she went to her youth group and continued to say yes to God. Other people saw that this was happening and said well I want to say yes to God too and so in small groups it began to happen from those small groups it grew into well ... here's a group of people, here's a group of people - let's put this together you end up with high school ministry network out of that they said, wait a minute, let's bring in let's come together and address some of the needs that we have let's encourage one another do that sort of thing out of that the conference's begin to happen Locker to Locker of course was a terrific experience for a lot of people and it was it was very striking to me when it when was locker locker I forget the last one?

Interviewer: Last fall..

Rich: Last fall at the locker to locker you know and one of the wonderful things to me was that there were Bibles distributed in several different languages - Spanish, English, Vietnamese, Korean... you know because we have quite a quite a variety of people here and Wichita one of the things that I think is so cool is, you know I'm an education major, and one of the big things that they talk about in our education classes is multicultural education that kind of went the church here is way ahead of the public schools that we're already addressing the needs of people from other languages already material is being distributed to them so that they don't have to learn English before they can learn what the church has to teach. That was a wonderful thing it was cool to be a part of a of an assembly where there was rap music, there was rock music, there was folk music, there was all kinds of... I've never seen a more racially integrated group of people coming together and saying hey this is not important. Our racial differences are not important. What is important is truth. And truth applies in the black neighborhood, in the red neighborhood and the white neighborhood whatever this is there is something here that is more important than our cultural differences. And out of reverence for that thing that is more important we could respect the differences between the cultures. And I think have a have a good experience. The world has not yet been able to do that for all of their hubbub about it. It's a bunch of smoke. But the church there was some real fire and that that I really enjoy. And I think this this is is going to be a challenge can an administration.. can a system that believes that there are no absolutes.. that is bent on tearing down any kind of idea of reality... can they even meet their own agenda and hasn't the church already begun to do a better job of meeting that agenda than they've been able to do? All they've been able to do is stir up a bunch of controversy. And here in Wichita, what I saw was people from different races, people from different cultures, praying together people having the scriptures distributed to them in their own language. People from one culture saying how how can we assist people from another culture and helping themselves and people generally all over coming together. And that was that I think is a direct outgrowth of one girl saying yes to God nine years ago....

What I saw last fall was people from a great diversity of cultures coming together with a willingness to meet the needs of people from other cultures and within their own culture, without interfering with with the differences, but saying here is a truth that we all need. We all need it equally. We all need it in our own language. Let's meet this need and this is something that that a government, the public schools, that for all the the screaming about diversity and equality and and equity all those things, have not accomplished this. But I saw it happen. I saw it happen in the church. And I believe that the example of acceptance, of concern, of equity, of all those things that I saw last fall, was a direct result of one girl maybe some nine ten years ago saying yes to God. And that and the result of of a consistent saying yes to God on her part and on the part of people who have been inspired by her example.. and continued to do it.

Interviewer: The thing I'd like to... I think we've got plenty to work with... but I am interested in what you would say to other young people concerning the motivation to be interested in every tongue, tribe, and nation. To go beyond our barriers - our borders. Why? What is the motivation there? And I know you could probably do a whole seminar. Just from someone that young people look up to, knowing that this is on God's heart, and its on your heart - what would you say to young people?

Rich: I'm not always sure that I know what to say about it. I kind of go people often ask a really stupid question I think... they often ask what would you do with a million dollars. And not even being a prophet, I can tell you what you do as a million dollars. You do with a million orders exactly what you would do with a dime. And if you would horde a dime, you'd hoard a million bucks. If you'd waste a dime, you'd waste a million bucks. If you'd share a dime, you'd share, etc etc. And so, I think a lot of young people look at their lives and they think all they have is a dime... that their life is unimportant and they're waiting for God to give them a fortune. And they think when I get my fortune, then I will respond to the call of God. Well what you're doing now is you are setting a direction for what you're gonna be doing in ten years. If you don't love your parents, you're not gonna love anybody else. If you can't love your brothers and sisters, don't live with the illusion that some day you're going to find people who are better than they are. Everyone's pretty ratty when you get down to the bottom of it. If you don't love your neighbors where you live, you're not gonna love your neighbors just because you happen to move a thousand miles away.

I think that people often worry about what the will of God is and I always say, whoa - we know the will of God. God has gone to the trouble and a good many people have gone to the trouble to to write His will down in the scriptures so that we can know what he wants us to be. He wants us to love. He wants us to rejoice in him. He wants us to to live lives that are flush with glory and this is the will of God. And you do that whether you live in North Dakota, whether you live in New York City, whether you live in Wichita... wherever you live. That is the will of God. And they say well yeah but what about - is God calling me to missions? Is God calling me to church work? Is God calling me to be a lawyer - which I doubt. What is God specifically calling me to? Snd I kind of go, you know, that's God's problem. You be God's person where you are and if God wants you to go somewhere else... like say, God wants you in Egypt, he will provide ten jealous brothers and they will sell you into slavery and you'll end up there. God has a way of accomplishing his will and our job is to say yes to God. And the place that we're at in the moment that we're in. A lot of kids say, gosh I don't know if I can. Uou know a lot of kids have drug habits. A lot of kids are already stuck in an alcohol habit. A lot of people say, 'gee I just don't think I could quit smoking, drinking, whatever those things are.' And I'm not sure that everyone has to quit those, but I do know this - that the only way I've been ever able to overcome moral flaws or even hang-ups of my own has not been to quit them but just to say I'm not gonna do it now. I'm not gonna worry about tomorrow. Maybe if I had been struggling with the drug problem, I'm not going to say I'll never take heroin again. I'm only gonna say I'm not gonna take it now. I'm not going to shoot up this minute and this is the only minute I have to get through. Christ might come back tonight. I may wake up tomorrow and never have to struggle again. I'm not gonna worry about tomorrow because it may not even happen. But I will do God's will here and now in this moment and, when I can no longer do that, God will provide an escape. So my advice to people is is not to worry about whether you should go into missions. Not to worry about which group of people you might have a rapport with and you might have a meaningful work among... love the people you're with. I think even though the the song might not have intended to say this, there's some good advice in the idea if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with. Especially if we interpret love the way that the Bible interprets it to us. Especially if we say if you can't be with the one that you want the best for, want the best for the one that you're with. If you can't be with the people that you naturally enjoy, learn to enjoy the people that you're that you're stuck in the midst of.

Jesus said I am the vine and you are the branches. Abide in me and you will produce fruit. When we abide in the idea of needs. When we abide in the idea of projects. When we when we focus our mind on works. When we focus ourselves on on all these things, we die. And we don't bear fruit in the midst of them. When we live in a relationship with Jesus himself... when the spirit of when the Holy Spirit is that enlivening force for us.. when we are rooted and grounded in the reality of the love of God, then we produce fruit. Then we become empowered to do something about those needs. When we just focus on work need situation those kinds of things, we're cutting ourselves off and but when we focus on God.... and it's part of Calvin's catechism - which I'm not a Calvinist, but he said that the purpose of man is to love God and enjoy him forever and I remember before I studied Calvin at all just looking at that and going wow that's a weird, weird thing to think but then realizing if I enjoy God... another guy St. Augustine - one of my favorite quotes all-time favorite quotes is 'love God and do as you please.' And a lot of people think oh what a libertine kind of attitude I kind of hear you know what when I love my mom, nothing pleases me more than for her to to to be pleased by me. When I'm in love with somebody... I don't ordinarily buy flowers. I'm not a big flower kind of person, but when I'm in love with somebody. somehow I get this huge joy out of buying flowers for them. Loving somebody changes our perspective so much and loving God changes lives and allowing God to continue to enhance the love that we have for Him is the thing that keeps us going. And I don't think we can love God unless we let him love us first. So I think the bottom line is that God loves us that he first loved us that we know that He loved us because Christ has atoned for our sins has taken has taken all of our wrongs, all of our evils, upon himself and paid the penalty for that. We know that God loves us if that doesn't say it to us what will and then when we live in an awareness of the work of Christ not only in taking away our sins, but in continuing to abide with us in the midst of our slowness to respond.

When we live in that awareness it becomes unthinkable that we should do other than love him back and so a lot of people say why are you interested in missions they go have what why wouldn't I be? What else am I gonna be interested in? A lot of people say why do you write Christian songs I'm kinda like well what else would you write about? If you knew God Almighty so suddenly you're gonna become terribly interested in writing about a girl you know it doesn't make any sense people say why do you do this why do you do that I I don't understand people who aren't it's unfathomable to me the people who live in the midst the prosperity like we haven't in in our culture and in our country I can't imagine why anybody would say gee I don't want to help the poor gee I don't want to be a part of feeding hungry people in another country do you don't want to be a part of holding up the truth of God's people who are spiritually starved and morally impoverished so that's kind of where that is.

Interviewer: that's right I think we got some great stuff, Rich... thanks.

Rich: One of the things that is very striking to me is is not only the effect of Sherri's own things that she's been about like carrying her Bible to school doing Bible studies within the school and that the outgrowth of all that, but even in in her brother's life. In Sam I have seen Sam looking at what Sherri has done... and I think Sam is a pretty great guy he's a very good friend of mine you know but seeing what has happened here with his sister and in this church and Wichita, generally he's gotten more involved in trying to respond. He has become a lot more involved in a lot of things. Not only him but you know in my own life I think a lot of times I kind of want to wienie out I kind of want to soften the blow a little bit try to make truth a little dress it up and make it a little nicer and you know I think of Sherri a lot a lot of times I go boy to see the fruit of her faithfulness makes me want to be faithful as well. So I think it's kind of immeasurable to say what the impact of one life is. I often ... There's a Ray Boltz um 'thank you' that that I I think of a lot of times I I kind of go I part of the the joy of heaven will probably be all those teachers that people had in first and second grade that they have forgotten in this life all those Sunday School teachers all the grandparents and the parents and the people who well they were not John Knox's they weren't popes they weren't any in the world standards big deal. They were faithful in the place where they were called to be and I I think part of the joy of heaven is just gonna be that we will if exhaustion is possible in heaven that we would probably exhaust ourselves saying thank you to people whose lives had an impact on our life that we weren't even aware of that maybe when we when we see each other in glory will will realize how glorious we were before we were able to see and so I hope people never get frustrated being faithful on the small things because I think in the small things that's where it comes together or falls apart

This might be the part you'd want to put on the film because I would say if God asks you if God asks you to carry your Bible to school carry it knowing that you're taking a bouquet of flowers to someone you love. If he doesn't call you to do that then don't. One of the things that I I think is we can be sure of about anyone who has ever been a part of a revival or whatever is you know I have to go back to the example of David that when David went out to kill Goliath first of all the interesting thing was what he was doing was tearing sandwiches to his brothers not a particularly heroic... not a particularly glorious task. In fact it might have been a little embarrassing that his brothers were out there fighting the Philistines and here comes David with a little picnic basket to his brothers he might have felt a little bit like like a goon and yet he was the one who ended up slaying Goliath once again faithfulness and small things but beyond that you know when when when they finally went well here's someone who whether or not he has the ability he at least has the courage to go up against Goliath and immediately what they tried to do was put their armor on him. What Saul tried to do was fit David into Saul's mold God called Sheree to carry her Bible to start Bible studies to live a life of moral excellence as she understands what that means God may call you to do something completely different than that. That doesn't make his call to Sheree any less valid it doesn't make his call on your life any less valid that we must be who we are that God is expressing himself uniquely in each of our own lives and the thing that that has made fruit come about is Sheree's faithfulness to being the person that God called her to be. Sherri's faithfulness to carry the Bible when God called her to carry that. Her faithfulness to start the Bible said he wouldn't God called her to do that maybe God would call what would specifically impress you to to go sing hymns to people in nursing homes on Sunday afternoons maybe he would call you to do who knows what... one of the things that I think is fascinating when you study the prophets is is how different each of their each of their methods were. The message was pretty much the same that they were always calling people back to God and God was always calling through them. But one prophet is throwing ashes on his head another is is walking around the streets naked another is doing all kinds of things that we look at him and go wow how bizarre who would ever do that well they did as they were called to do and my encouragement to you is rejoice in God who is your maker and the best way to rejoice in God your maker is to be what he made you to be. To do what he calls you to do it's uh it's not terribly complicated I don't think

Well I just may be cheap but I'll do a misquote of Frederick Buechner who says our calling is that place where the world's greatest need and our greatest joy intersect that God has designed each of us with gifts with personality with character we're each a unique person and the world we meet the world where there is a variety of needs a variety of problems and there is a place where we intersect there's a place where my greatest joy and the world's greatest need meet and that Frederick Buechner would say was your calling. And I think that's a pretty good definition of a calling. How do you know when God is calling you? Well I don't know in my own life I think there for years I tried to avoid loneliness because it hurts to feel lonely now I'm beginning to recognize that that maybe that's what it feels like when God calls me. Maybe when God is calling it hurts maybe when God calls us it it's feels like a pain. And for years in my own life I tried to drown that pain I tried to avoid that pain I tried to fill that ache with all kinds of what I can now look back on and see what was a lot of stuff that was destroying me, corrupting me. And to listen to the call of God means to accept some of the emptiness that we have in our own lives and rather than always trying to to drown out that feeling of emptiness; instead of always trying to fill it with a lot of junk; to allow that to be a door through which we go to meet God. So I would say and this is where I think moral purity begins to play in that almost everything that corrupts us is something that we use to fill some kind of ache; some kind of emptiness. And moral purity might be nothing more than a call to accept the ache and to accept the emptiness and to allow ourselves to go through that to where God is calling us to go. And that the joy of Christian life is that those aches those needs that emptiness that that we're going to encounter because we're human is ultimately met in Christ and that everything that we try to fill it with that is not Christ will never really fill it so we were constantly connected to some kind of a lifeline that keeps us tied down. When we finally cut that lifeline off when we finally say I will no longer fill my life with with casual sexual encounters I will no longer fill the holes in my life with some kind of manipulative behavior. When I will no longer fill that with with drunkenness or with being high or with being constantly saturated with sensationalism. When we finally say no to those things when we pull that lifelong it's a very scary thing and we go well will I ever stop hurting? And my answer is don't worry about hurting realize that that god this is how badly God wants you. And did that hurt that you're feeling that emptiness that you're feeling maybe that's the way it feels when you're called by God and so don't try to fill it don't try to quiet it but ask God to give you the courage to face that and to walk through that to him. Because when we connect with God I don't think that that means that the emptiness goes away and is always gone but it frees us from those kind of IV kinds of needles that keep us bound up in some kind of a hospital where we can't really live freely and wander wildly as we want. When we find God we are freed we are made... it is for freedom the Christ to set you free and it is a wonderful thing to not be dependent on alcohol; to not be dependent on people; to not be dependent on sensationalism; on all those kinds of things. It's a wonderful thing to be able to to live in silence and to live in unpleasantness and to still have joy. And joy doesn't come from substances. Joy doesn't come from from worldly wealth. Joy comes from God. That we were created to love God and only when we experience that love is are we really free anything that would impede that love; anything that would block our own awareness of our need for that that binds us up. And that's why moral purity I think is an important thing. You want to to set yourself free from those things that would impede you from freedom.

Did that answer your question did that make any sense?

(When asked about starting a new project...)

I was gonna start one this summer but I'm not going to no I'm gonna take a vacation instead.