As my family and I get ready for worship this morning, I enjoy listening to music. Music connects my family to worshiping our God. Words set to a melody offer an emotional connection to the God of the Bible. Now, I know that there are other means to worship God.
In the Scriptures, the apostle Paul told us that whatever we do, do to the glory of God. We are to be living sacrifices to God. The issue comes down to the heart. The psalmist David, sings "you desire a broken and contrite heart over the sacrifice of bulls and goats." Where is your heart? If it is worshiping anything other than God alone, beware, our God is a jealous God. He alone is to be worshiped, whether in song, word, or deed!!
There are times when you would think, "OK, enough already!" As I am beginning to approach 40, I think to myself, "OK, the brain is full!"However, I am constantly coming to the understanding that I will be learning for a long time! I enjoy experiencing new things, but there is a temptation to wonder if I have learned enough?
God is a gracious God! To stop learning is to disengage from what is going on around us. Life is always bringing about new challenges, people from different lands, new jobs, different ideas and philosophies, etc. The question that we are left with: what are we going to do with it?
With international student ministries, we are presented with people from countries from all over the world, those people come from different backgrounds from those different countries, with different family dynamics, and so on. The greatest thing that we can express to people who decide to participate with us is to look at each student as an individual. Yes, they may look different and talk different than us, but they are still people. Although they may look at things differently, we ALL still have same basic needs, and an ultimate eternal need.
The next time you have an opportunity to talk with someone from another country, take the time to find out more about them and who they really are. You will be amazed! Don't be conceited about your way being the only way. As followers of Christ, your world, your country, your state, your city is NOT your home, we are just "passing through." Be more concerned about who you are in Christ, than who you are as an earthly citizen (because it is temporary anyway). I try to imagine, what would it be like for me and my family to live in that country?
Just think about it .
I wanted to announce that we have made an important decision! Our brand new ministry name for Purdue is:
INTERNATIONAL CAMPUS MINISTRIES
This name encompasses a lot for us and the future ministry at Purdue. Our ministry will focus towards INTERNATIONAL students, obviously. Then, the word CAMPUS places the emphasis on the collegiate environment. Finally, the word MINISTRIES is significant because of several reasons: 1) our ministry will target primarily the students at Purdue University, but we want to be open for the international students at Ivy Tech, which is a local community college, 2) our desire is that this ministry will be adopted by individual churches, but be seen by them as a collective effort by us all. The abbreviation, ICM, also parallels the abbreviation of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) that we will work together with.
This name is so important to us as a family, and especially myself, because it only continues to add the reality to what God is doing. We are so excited about how He is providing and opening doors. Please pray that He will provide new financial partners as well as prayer partners.
Our logo and labeling will come in time. If you are reading this and think that Lord is laying on your heart a logo for us, please feel free to contact me.
There is more coming as God leads!
In the process of raising support, God likes to use this aspect of humanity by saying, "SURPRISE!!!" He is always showing us that He's got us. During this trip to TN, we had the resources to get here, but weren't sure how all the rest was going to be taken care of. We told God this and what does He do: SURPRISE! Unexpectedly, we received a call on Sunday afternoon from a local pastor asking us to come and share our ministry with his congregation, and that they would take up a love offering for our family. I heard someone, somewhere, somtime make a statement that sounded "cheesy" at the time, but it seems to be what is happening at times in our lives: as our praises go up, His blessings come down.
As human as I am and continue to find myself getting trapped by my own failing self-reliance, God shows me that HE and HE ALONE is in control! God is always showing me that I can't figure Him out, and that I can't rely on my own efforts. Ultimately, it just comes down to faith and trust in Him. It can't be of my own demands, but in simple obedience.
How about you?
My wife heard this song the other day on the radio and asked us all to listen to it. It was a very convicting song! The video makes the point all the more. It definitely goes to the core of American Christianity. What are we here for? This is a question that is causing a current to swell in current books, blogs, and sermons. When God saved you, what were you saved for? Were you saved in order to live a more peaceful life? A more successful life? A more moral life? You fill in the blank. I'm not raising this question to badger anyone. This is a question for us all.
We were not saved for our benefit! Although, we do benefit from our salvation, but God saved us in order to bring Him glory and to be a light unto a dark world. If we are a light in a big room with other lights, what impact is our light having? I will be honest. To be a light in a dark place, requires sacrifice of one's self. We will have to sacrifice our safety, our reputations, our comforts, our desires, etc.
The more I continue to grow in my walk with the Lord, the more I realize that my life is not my own. Honestly, I'm not OK with that. My "flesh" wants to be in control, the master of my own destiny. But to what avail? What can I really do with my life that would bring everlasting satisfaction? What God has to offer through His salvation is a life of ETERNAL, EVERLASTING gratification! Imagine what the American church would look like if we saw our salvation as the calling that it is? We would see others in need (physically and more importantly, spiritually) differently! My prayer is that God would give us (ALL) opportunities to participate in bringing Him glory in seeing others as He sees them! Try reaching out. It will cost you something though (e.g., time, gas, money, your reputation, convenience, etc.)! But in the end, where does your treasure lie?
This past weekend, I got to spend a lot of time learning about cultures from around the world. I am trying to equip myself to be able to see the world through another persons perspective. So often, it is easy to think that everyone thinks like us Americans from the Bible-belt South. Although, every American may have different viewpoints, I personally don't think that we can begin to grasp the way another person thinks especially when they come from the other side of the world.
I have been learning about the family life of a segment of people from China, India, and Brazil. I had the opportunity to talk with them on a variety of subjects: views of government, entertainment, marriage, death, careers, family, parents, food, sports, etc. Not that these discussions necessarily reflect all the people from their respective countries, but it definitely gave my wife and I some neat insights. As the apostle Paul says in Acts 17, when he was speaking to the men at Areopagus, he talked about how God has determined where mankind would live. It is interesting to see how these folks see life, especially when I think of myself.
Sometimes, I can get close-minded to life. I can easily put MY worldview as THE universal perspective when I talk with people from other countries. But, God quickly rebukes me and shows me that He has been at work throughout the world and throughout history, especially when someone quotes a philosopher from their history and it ends up being a quote from the Scriptures. One thing is for sure, we all have a common bonds: SIN and HOPELESSNESS. The remedy for both is found in Christ alone.
What I would challenge you to self-examine yourself to see if you are truly desiring to see people as unique and created by God? This does not mean that you or I as believers and followers of Christ are to look past sin, but can we truly see people as created by God just like yourself. In order to have true compassion towards someone, you have to see people as God sees them and to be concerned with that person's position before God. That position will be a place of reward or judgement.
Just think about it?
Dennis Runner- a witness, a follower, a student, and a lump of clay in the hands of my God and Savior.