Back in high school, I was kind of a "faker" when it came to following Jesus.
My faith was just a side-project for occasional self-improvement. I would say I did care about serving other people, but I cared even more about what those people thought about me. Daily habits of obedience and discipleship like studying Scripture and praying were fairly nonexistent.
From December 2015 to late this Spring 2016, rain fell on the low-lying jungle lands of Southwest China and Myanmar. The areas in which rainfall was heaviest happened to be where thousands of refugee families have settled in the past, fleeing the warring Burmese militia and terrorist groups.
"The older Lisu people said that they have not seen this kind of rain. It rained so long...The rain has hit the area every day for over three months. Finally the mountains and hills burst out, dirt, stone, rock came out first and then followed by mud and water. Some is about the size of the house. Some houses were completely wiped out. Many houses, and over 20 Church buildings were destroyed," reported our partner mission in the area.
If you could choose to possess a single super power, what would it be?
Flying would be pretty cool, right? Invisibility would be seriously useful for those embarrassing moments. Mind-reading could easily save a hurting relationship.
There are hundreds of creative choices, but I think if I had to pick just one, it would be to show the love of Jesus without hesitation. Before I am condemned as "holier-than-thou" for my choice, let me try to explain.
I am a longtime fan of Christian music in all its forms. As a young boy I recall listening to the tight vocal harmonies of the Blackwood Brothers, the Gospel Lads, and the Imperials. During my high school and college days I went on to discover the music of Amy Grant, Russ Taff, and Petra. In recent years the bands Casting Crowns and Mercy Me have captured my interest.
But the sacred music I most enjoy, and the variety I believe to be most needed in our world today is not limited to any particular artist. My favorite is a musical tradition older than any modern style. It even predates traditional hymns and Gregorian chant. Although it could be called Soul Music, it has nothing to do with the R&B / jazz / gospel influenced sound that emerged in the late 50's and early 60’s.
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." - James 1:27
As we approach the fall season, the IDES Staff and Board starts getting excited about the annual Harvest of Talents events, currently hosted by 6-7 churches throughout the U.S.
In the Fall of 1983, Pat Snyder, a member of Lincoln Christian Church in Illinois, felt conviction in her heart after hearing the preacher's comments on the extreme hunger needs throughout the world. Pat decided that she was going to do whatever she could to help those who were hungry.
Have you watched the news recently?
The world can be a pretty dark place. There is a lot of evil, a lot of immorality, and a lot of darkness. Entire groups of people are suffering at the hands of other groups of people. It can sometimes seem that light is snuffed out as soon as it is lit. But should followers of Jesus be surprised or shocked at this?
“It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.” - 2 Timothy 2:6
We have a saying around IDES that we cherish as the motto for our service within the focus area of Development and Sustainability.
"It is better to give a hand-UP than it is to give a hand-OUT."
Giving a "hand-out" is a short-term event that includes little more than providing a single object of assistance or relief during a community's time of need. Giving a "hand-up" is a long-term process that includes building relationships and strategically assisting communities in a way that promotes their ability to stand on their own feet. The difference in effectiveness between these two is tremendous, especially for provoking Gospel-sharing opportunities.