Welcome Garrett Eledui!

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I’m so thankful that Garrett Eledui will be joining the team here at FAU! After spending the past year working at a startup technology firm, the Lord has kindly redirected Garrett’s path to come on staff as an RUF Intern. Garrett’s no stranger to RUF, his wife Loni has been faithfully serving at FAU since the Fall of 2017. As the ministry on campus has grown, our need for laborers has grown as well. Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest in plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Loni and Garrett are both answers to that prayer and I’m thankful for them both. They also remind me that there is much work to be done on campus. The harvest indeed is plentiful and we trust that the Lord will be pleased with our efforts to reach students with the hope of the Gospel. Please take a minute and pray for both Loni and Garrett.

2018 Week of Welcome

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Welcome to RUF at FAU!  I’m so glad that you’ve stopped by the website and hope the information you find here is helpful.  With the fall semester upon us I want to share with you a little bit more about how you can get involved with RUF.  While you are welcome to join us at any time in the semester, we have found over the years that the earlier you can get plugged in the better!  So we have a number of events in the first couple of weeks designed to help you get acquainted with RUF and make friends at FAU.  Here are a few times, places, and locations where you can be on the lookout for RUF.

-       August 19th – Get WOW’d - 2-4 PM.  RUF will have a table set up at the Get WOW’d event in the Breezeway.  We’d love for you to stop by, say hi, and meet some fellow students!

-      August 20th – Diversity Way– RUF will have a table set up on Diversity Way throughout the day.  If you missed us at Get WOW’d, it’s not too late to stop by and sign up for more info.

-       August 21st – Welcome Back BBQ 6 PM at the Housing Pavilion.  We’ll be grilling hamburgers and playing games like Corn Hole, Spike Ball, Frisbee, Volleyball and more.  Come grab a bite to eat and play some games.

-       August 22nd – Large Group Worship at 8 PM in Live Oak A.  RUF will be meeting every Wednesday night at 8 PM throughout the semester.  This is a great opportunity to make new friends, build community, and grow in your faith.

-      August 25th - Beach Day - Join us for at Spanish River Beach!  Come to worship on Wednesday night to get a free parking pass.   We'll have paddle boards, games and other beach activities!

-       August 26th – Sunday Morning Worship.  There are several great churches in the area.   If you’d like a ride, feel free to text Jeff (813-767-9063) to get a ride on Sunday morning.

-       August 29th – RUF Meeting at 8 PM in Nations Multipurpose Room.  The Nations Multipurpose Room is located downstairs from the Housing office.  Look out for the RUF banners and signs to help find us.

-        Fall Conference is Oct 12-14.  We'll be heading up to Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, FL.  For more information, click here.  You don’t want to miss this weekend!

Q&A - If God is good and all-powerful, then why do we experience so much pain and suffering?

The implied assumption behind this question is either God is not good because He allows evil and suffering to occur or He is good, but just powerless to stop it.  Either of those options are pretty horrifying and leave us rather unsettled.  The answer to the question on why there’s so much evil and suffering is because we live in a world that’s in rebellion against God.   God is not the author of evil, but He allows evil and suffering to occur as a sign of the present world under judgment.  If there were no sin, then there would be no cancer, no random shootings, or any other form of suffering.  The fact that we long for a perfect world where there are no more tears and no more tragedies is evidence of our being created in the image of God and proof that our only hope is found in a right relationship with Him.

While it’s mysterious to us, God uses evil, sin and suffering to accomplish His purposes. Our understanding of life and God’s purposes in our life are often confusing and hard to interpret, especially when we are in the middle of challenging situations.  It’s tempting to think, “Why would God allow this to happen?”  While the question is understandable, I am convinced that all of those questions would make sense if we could see things from God’s perspective.  God has a purpose and as we read in Romans 8:28 – He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  One illustration that sheds light on this reality is to think about a woven tapestry.  If you turn over the tapestry and look at the backside, it hard to discern the design or that this could in fact be a beautiful work of art.  In fact, there’s often random threads and loose ends hanging out that don’t make sense.  But turn it over to the front side and the design becomes clear.  A skillful hand has woven all of these pieces of thread together to make a beautiful piece of art.  One day we’ll see God’s purpose and plan and the senselessness of evil will make sense.  What’s senseless from one perspective, suddenly makes perfect sense when given the proper view.  The life of Joseph is another great illustration of this fact.  His life was one of a series of chaotic and challenging circumstances.  He suffered much at the hands of those who sought to do him harm, even from his own siblings.  In Genesis 50 there is a poignant moment where Joseph’s brothers are fearful that Joseph will repay them for their evil actions.  But Joseph responds in v. 20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Only near the end of his life was Joseph able to see the ways in which God used hardships to bring about something good and beautiful. 

Finally, if we come with a sense of humility, this question should drive us to a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  Jesus was betrayed by His own people, condemned to death by the Roman authorities, and hung on a cross in what appeared to be a senseless evil act.  Yet it was through his death and sacrifice that He redeemed us from our sin and reconciled us to God. What appeared as a senseless tragedy is the greatest news for all humanity.  Moreover, His death and resurrection is not just an example of good coming from evil, but a guarantee that one day He will return.  His second coming will be one where sin and evil are finally vanquished and the new heavens and new earth are ushered in.  We read of this reality in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  The existence of evil and suffering no doubt assaults our faith while we live in this world.  But God’s Word draws us to a deeper reality and hope where crying, mourning and pain no longer exist.  God’s Word convinces us to see that He is good and in control and sovereignly orchestrating all the events of this life to accomplish His purpose and to make us more like Christ. 

Fall Semester Events

Welcome to RUF at FAU!  I’m so glad that you’ve stopped by the website and hope the information you find here is helpful.  With the fall semester upon us I want to share with you a little bit more about how you can get involved with RUF.  While you are welcome to join us at any time in the semester, we have found over the years that the earlier you can get plugged in the better!  So we have a number of events in the first couple of weeks designed to help you get acquainted with RUF and make friends at FAU.  Here are a few times, places, and locations where you can be on the lookout for RUF.

-       August 20th – Get WOW’d.  RUF will have a table set up at the Get WOW’d event in the football stadium and we’d love for you to stop by, say hi, and meet some fellow students!

-       August 21st – Diversity Way– RUF will have a table set up on Diversity Way throughout the day.  If you missed us at Get WOW’d, it’s not too late to stop by and sign up for more info.

-       August 23rd – First RUF Meeting at 8 PM in the Senate Chambers.  RUF will be meeting every Wednesday night at 8 PM throughout the semester.  This is a great opportunity to make new friends, build community, and grow in your faith.

-       August 24th – Welcome Back BBQ 6 PM at the Housing Pavilion.  We’ll be grilling hamburgers and playing games like Corn Hole, Spike Ball, Frisbee, Volleyball and more.  Come grab a bite to eat and play some games.

-       August 27th – Sunday Morning Worship.  There are several great churches in the area.   If you’d like a ride, feel free to text Jeff (813-767-9063) to get a ride on Sunday morning.

-       August 30th – RUF Meeting at 8 PM in General Classroom North.  (This is the only week we’re not in the Union!)  General Classroom North is at the end of the Breezeway near the Rec Center.

-       September 1st – FAU’s first home game.  Come tailgate with RUF and watch the Owls open the season with a W!

-       Save the date – Sept 22-24 is Fall Conference.  For more information, click here.  You don’t want to miss this weekend!

 

Contentment: Part 3 - Grumbling

In case you missed the first entry here, I wanted to write a couple of blogs as a follow up on my Summer Conference seminar on contentment.  I’ve been greatly encouraged and convicted in my reading and teaching on this topic.  Contentment is a category of the Christian life that inadvertently touches a whole host of other areas.  One of them that we rarely consider is grumbling.  In many ways grumbling and complaining seem like such elementary topics that one would only expect to hear it discussed in a children’s class.  However, the New Testament writers are keen to point out the dangers of a grumbling spirit and it should serve as a warning for all of us.

In 1 Corinthians 10 the apostle Paul looks back on a particular era of Old Testament history that was marked by discontentment and grumbling.  There are few moments in salvation history so poignant as God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  God led his people in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He ensured their successful journey by parting the Red Sea and so providing safe passage out of Egypt and away from Pharaoh’s pursuing army.  God’s people were eye witnesses of the hand of God in working many signs and wonders for their own deliverance.  Yet, in 1 Corinthians 10, we read that with most of them God was not pleased.  What could cause such an indictment?  Idolatry and sexual immorality were certainly part of the problem (1 Cor 10:6-9).  In their sin and unbelief, the Israelites were guilty of these two offenses.  But then in the same section, along with the sins of sexual immorality and idolatry, comes another charge, we must not “grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.”  1 Cor 10:10.  They grumbled.

Grumbling and complaining doesn’t seem like that big of a deal in our day.  In fact we often laugh with those whose quick wit and humor are defined by grumbling.  However, with a little more thought, there’s more to grumbling than what we see at first glance.  At it’s core, a grumbling spirit comes from a heart of unbelief.  Unbelief that God is not good, that His sovereign plan for my life doesn’t meet my approval, and in my frustration I want to make sure everyone around me knows how I feel.  At it’s heart, a grumbling spirit is dangerous because it reveals a belief that we know better than God.  This doesn’t mean that there are no hard afflictions in life, or trials to endure.  Certainly we all experience them!  But our response in them and to them reveals our core convictions about the nature of God and His relationship to us.  What if in the midst of hardship and affliction, we were absolutely convinced that this comes from the goodness of God and that He will continue to meet all of our need?  The pain wouldn’t suddenly disappear.  However, the frustration that causes us to constantly complain and grumble would give way to a life marked by faith and belief.  As usual, Jeremiah Burroughs captures the danger well when he writes, “Murmuring is but as the smoke of the fire: there is first a smoke and smouldering before the flame breaks forth; and so before open rebellion in a kingdom there is first a smoke of murmuring, and then it breaks forth into open rebellion.” Pg. 140.  May God give us the grace to be a people marked by trust and faith rather than grumbling and murmuring.

Contentment: Part 2 - Ambition

     To our western, American mindset, contentment is not a trait that is often pursued.  Contentment is usually referred to as the unwanted, but helpful byproduct of disappointment.  I can’t count the number of times I have heard, and probably even said myself, “You know it is disappointing but I’m really content.”  It’s as if contentment was the final stop on a downward slope where we’ve given up and have now settled with just being content.  It other words, we tend to think of people who are either ambitious go getters, or people who are resigned to the ho-hum status quo and have settled to just be content.  It’s at this point that a definition is in order and I can think of few who have defined contentment as well as Jeremiah Burroughs.  “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

            During the Q&A portion of my seminar I was asked whether it’s possible for a person to be too content in the Christian life.  That’s an interesting question that I hadn’t thought about in quite that fashion.  My answer to the questioner, which is largely unchanged, is that if we properly think of contentment as Burroughs defines it (which I would argue is biblical) then the answer is no.  If contentment, by definition, is a heart filled with trust and peace in every condition of life because it comes from God’s wise and fatherly disposal, then how can we ever have too much of that attitude?  However, I believe what’s underlying the question is a misunderstanding of contentment.  I think the questioner, and many others, often think of contentment as being a Christianized form of laziness or resignation.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Even a cursory glance at the book of Acts and the Pauline epistles show us that the apostle Paul was anything but lazy or resigned to status quo.  Paul was often on the move, planting churches, endeavoring to enter new mission fields, and boldly declaring the Gospel at any opportunity.  Two well known verses that poured from his pen urge believers to do all things to the glory of God working whole heartily (1 Cor 10:31, Col 3:23).  Those commands hardly pave the road for laziness or resignation.

            In fact, it’s in light of the fallen world in which we live, in light of the challenges that we face, that contentment comes into play at all.  Here Burroughs is helpful again.  He writes, there is “some mystery and art, as that a man should be content with his affliction, and yet thoroughly sensible of an affliction, and to endeavor to remove it by all lawful means, and yet to be content: there is a mystery in that.”  Burroughs is not afraid to call an affliction or hardship what it is – it’s hard and brutal.  Further, contentment doesn’t mean that we give up in defeat – we endeavor to remove it by all lawful means.  Yet in the middle of that battle, we live with contentment because we trust that all things come from God’s wise and fatherly disposal.  That is a mystery indeed!  It’s in that place that we find contentment’s truest expression, a heart at rest, a spirit of peace, even while working wholeheartedly to God’s glory.

Contentment: Part 1 - Contentment is Learned

For the past two years I’ve taught a seminar at RUF Summer Conference called “The Secret of Contentment.”  Since there are so many great seminars offered throughout the week, I didn’t expect many students to come to a seminar on contentment.  While I was prepared to teach for two hours, I really anticipated having a handful of students show up with us circling chairs for a small group discussion.  I was blown away in that first hour when the room was packed with students.  While our time together was encouraging and the students’ questions were insightful, I couldn’t help but notice a sense that this concept of contentment seemed largely elusive.  So I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts from my seminar on contentment and hope you’ll find some of these thoughts helpful as well. 

First and foremost, Christian contentment is learned.  Twice in Philippians 4, the apostle Paul speaks of learning contentment.  In 4:11 he says he has “learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”  Later in 4:12, he writes that he has “learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger…”  This is an easily overlooked point in our Christian walk.  Contentment is not a character trait that comes automatically with faith, but is one that has to be learned.  We often forget how challenging and awkward it is to learn something new.  As I watch my kids learn how to throw a baseball, their motion looks awkward at first and no doubt feels unnatural to them.  Over time, with practice and repetition, the awkwardness disappears and gives way to fluency and ease of motion.  With kids who are 7, 5, 3, and 1 I have a constant representation of the progression in learning to throw a baseball!

So how does this apply to contentment?  The apostle Paul writes of learning contentment in both good times and bad, whether well fed or hungry.  Often our response to hard times is a response of frustration, anger, or discouragement, which only leads to further feelings of discontentment.  The cycle continues and the contentment we long for eludes us.  However, since contentment is a trait that is learned, we shouldn’t be surprised that the proper responses of faith and trust to life’s disappointments and hardships may feel awkward and unnatural at first.  So it is with learning any new skill.  But those initial faithful steps are the first steps in learning contentment.  With time, repetition, and continued application of Gospel truths, we too can learn to find contentment.  It’s not easy, and it won’t happen overnight.  But the peace that comes with a contented heart is a beautiful picture of Gospel faithfulness that is a worthy goal.