I am two semesters away from FINALLY having a college degree. Whew. It feels good to be able to say that. I graduated from high school in 1996, and I must say it has been a long and winding road, if I may quote The Beatles). I think I've had a total of one semester off since '96, but of course I haven't been going to school full time for a while now (marriage, two kids, and a full-time job preclude such things). By June of next year I will be a college graduate, but in the mean time, I'm getting geared up for classes at Tri-State Bible College (see ministry links in the sidebar).
As a prerequisite for graduation at Tri-State all students in a four year program, which includes me, must complete seven semesters of work in "Christian Service" program. I currently have six, and will be doing the last this semester. Until you've reached senior status you have a great degree of lattitude in what your Christian service might be. Once you're a senior, however, the administrators like you to take service opportunities that will prepare you for the ministries you will undertake after graduation. I, along with my advisor (college president Dr. Clifford Marquardt), thought that teaching at the church I attend (Living Hope Bible Church; see ministry links again) would be a good idea, so that's what I'll be doing for the most part. I've done that a number of times before and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, Dr. Marquardt also wanted me to take some speaking opportunities around the area to gain preaching experience. I agreed and that was that.
I suppose I must not have expected a speaking opportunity to come up in such short order. My wife took a phone call from Mr. Leroy Fulford, head of the Christian Service Program, asking me to get in touch with him. When I called, I learned that Dr. Marquardt had indeed secured a speaking engagement for me, and that the date will be July 31. That's next Sunday. Here's the thing: I've never preached before except for a five minute mini-sermon I did when I was a teenager, and now I have a week to prepare for a full length sermon. I'm kinda nervous.
The text I have chosen is the entire book of 1 John. One reason is that I've taught on the Epistles of John at Church, so I have some familarity with the text. Also, I'd like to do an overview of the whole book because sometimes we take an atomistic view of Scripture because we study just a few verses at a time. Not to mention the fact that knowing the general message of a book helps in interpreting the text. It's probably a bit too much to bite off in a week, but I'm going to give it a shot.
Anyway, pray for me, and pray for the people of Kenwood Missionary Baptist Church in Ashland, KY. They don't know what they're in for...