When those of us from the UK were mentally at 1am in a day that started at 4am or so, we found ourselves in the opening meeting of the IFES World Assembly in Hamilton, ON, Canada. To a room full of 600 or so IFES delegates (students, staff, board members, office staff) from around 150 countries, outgoing General Secretary Lindsay Brown opened aptly with a talk on Why are we here? from Psalm 115.
We're called in this psalm and as IFES at our 60th anniversary to
1. Look back and give glory to God (v.1)
"The doors are not quite open yet; but GOd has opened the windows and we're climbing through them." - IFES staff. We have 5 new member movements across the Middle East. Lindsay reported on more exciting happenings with mission. It's important to be reminded of God's acts through human beings - as Luther said, "There is nothing so short as a Christian's memory."
2. Look around and assess the challenges we face (vv.2-3)
Devastating exposé of idolatry in these verses. In the universities we face challenges similarly. It's right to look around at the opposition but remind ourselves: Our God is in the heavens - all that he pleases, he does. (That means that during the Assembly, we'll consider some key challenges.)
3. Look up and trust the Lord (vv.9-15, esp.11)
We can look up because we're not alone in the world: there is a God who is in heaven, who is our help and shield.
4. Look forward and seize the opportunities (vv.16-18)
God is Lord of heaven and earth and holds it in his hands but in his grace has called us to apply Biblical truth to every culture and society, to call all to his Christ, to steward his creation and proclaim the name of Christ to all. The Psalmist gives a reminder of the shortness of life: engage while we have opportunity.
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