" The refiner is never very far from the mouth of the furnace when His gold is in the fire."
(Charles H. Spurgeon)

Monday, December 5, 2016
          Driving around Fort Wayne at night right now means the omnipresence of Christmas lights decorating many homes.  Ever wonder when the practice began?  Lights first appeared on Christmas trees in Germany in the late 1800's.  Candles were first glued to the trees using melted candle wax and then, around 1890, candle holders made their appearance.  Small lanterns and glass balls were next on the trees during the first decade of the 1900's.  And, of course, electric lights came when electricity was introduced to Western Europe and the United States in the 1880's.  In Great Britain, the first electric Christmas lights were known as "fairy lights"--in my history classes, I tell my students that people almost worshiped electricity when it first became a part of the everyday life of western civilization.    
           An associate of Thomas Edison, Edward Johnson, vice-president of the Edison Electric Light Company, had specially made Christmas tree light bulbs manufactured for his personal use.  Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white and blue electric bulbs the size of walnuts to his tree on December 22, 1882 at his home on Fifth Avenue in New York City.  Local newspapers ignored Johnson's Christmas tree lights as a publicity stunt for his company, but a Detroit newspaper carried the story and Johnson subsequently became known as the Father of Electric Christmas tree lights.  In 1895, President Grover Cleveland became the first US president to illuminate electric Christmas lights on a White House Christmas tree.  Outdoor Christmas lights first appeared in San Diego (1904), Appleton, Wisconsin (1909) and New York City (1912).  The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has featured electric lights since just a few days before my day of birth (December 31) in 1956.  Average households did not start hanging outdoor, electric Christmas lights until the 1950's and 1960's.

          I have never met anyone who didn't love the beauty of Christmas lights; they surely contribute to the universal joy of the season for so many of us.  (Even in India--see the picture above from a recent Christmas service in one of the churches we will visit this coming March.)  Of course, light has significant meaning in God's Word as well.  Read these words from the prophecy of Jeremiah in the Old Testament (Message Translation): "Then I said, Listen.  Listen carefully: Don't stay stuck in your ways!  It's God Message we're dealing with here.  Let your lives glow bright before God before he turns out the lights . . ."  (Jeremiah 13:15-16)  In the Bible, lives are lights.  Jesus identified himself as the "Light of the World" in the gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 12.  His followers are also recognized as lights as well--as Jeremiah acknowledged in this passage.  The world around us plunged into darkness; the prophet calls people of faith to let their lives glow bright before God.  To shine brightly, Jeremiah warns us not to be "stuck in our ways."  As Christmas lights are often colorful, our lives must reflect the color of creativity and Holy Spirit-inspired transformation so that we are never stuck in a rut of selfishness and routine.  Only the Lord through His Spirit can season our lives with renewal and refreshment.

          In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul picks up the theme of Jesus' disciples as lights, in this case stars set against the blackness of the night sky.  And he even offers us practical advice as to how to be different, how to be light-like.  "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life . . ." (Philippians  2:14-15)  Pure, grateful and positive lives are so different from what we see around us that they will draw attention to themselves--and provoke questions from worldlings as to why we live the way we do.  After all, it is the backdrop of darkness (the dark culture and world we live in) that offers simple lives dedicated to Jesus the opportunity to shine so brightly!  Let's ask the Lord to shine through us this coming week on campus, at home, in the work place and beyond.

          Heavenly Father, we thank You for your Light--and we want to share it with so many others in our world.  Your light offers warmth, peace, protection and direction in a world that is so often cold, empty and purpose-less.  Thank You for the special reminder of colorful, electric lights on trees and houses during this Christmas season that we are called to be Your lights  in this world.  Remind us of that this week as we see these beautiful lights wherever we go.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 
Campus Minister Ben Gates

.S.  If you are buying Christmas gifts this holiday season through Amazon, click here and select Greater Fort Wayne Campus Ministry as the charitable organization you want to support.  Prices for all items you buy are the same as on the regular Amazon  website--but Amazon will donate a small portion of their profits to us if you make the purchase through Amazon Smile.  Thank you!   
Here's What's Happening This Week!
  • IPFW Student Leader Meeting:  Monday, December 5th, Noon-1:00 p.m., Walb Student Union, Room 114.
  • IPFW Coaches Bible Study:  Tuesday, December 6th, 8:30-9:30 a.m., Panera Bread on Coliseum Boulevard--all IPFW coaches are welcome to attend any time.
  • IPFW Faculty/Staff Prayer Meeting:  Wednesday, December 7th, Noon-12:30 p.m., Walb Student Union, Campus Ministry Office, Room 231.  All IPFW Faculty and Staff are welcome any time to pray for personal, campus and community concerns.  Drop in whenever it is convenient for you to attend.
  • Indiana Tech Student Bible Study:  Wednesday, December 7th, 3:00-4:00 p.m., Wegener Chapel on the second floor of Andorfer Commons.  All Tech students are welcome to attend any time!  It will be an encouragement to your week to study God's Word with us.  We are reading through Paul's letter to the Romans.
  • CM "Conversations" Meeting:  Wednesday, December 7th, 7:00-8:30 p.m., IPFW's Walb Student Union, Rooms 222-224-226.  Topic:  "The Comparison Trap: How to Avoid Judging Others."  It is so tempting to envy others, who they are and what they have.  What does the Bible practically say about how to avoid this pitfall?  Come and find out!  This will be an inspiring meeting--don't miss it.  FREE PIZZA at this meeting since it is the first Wednesday of the month!  #followmetoCM
  • IPFW Faculty/Staff Bible Study:  Thursday, December 8th, Noon-1:00 p.m., Science Building, Room 176All IPFW faculty and staff are invited to attend.  
  • Indiana Tech Faculty/Staff Prayer Meeting:  Friday, December 9th, Noon-12:30 p.m., Wegener Chapel on the second floor of Andorfer Commons.  All Tech faculty and staff are encouraged to attend.  We will pray for personal, campus and community concerns.  You are welcome any time when it is convenient for you to come.
Pyramid at Fall Retreat
Future Events for your Calendar
  • Campus Ministry Winter Retreat: 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 3rd-3:00 p.m., Sunday, February 5th, (2017)  Center Lake Bible Camp and Caberfae Peaks Ski Resort in Cadillac, Michigan.  Mark your calendar now and make plans to join us for our annual "Fun in the Snow" weekend in central Michigan.  Whether you are a skier or not, you won't want to miss this great weekend to be encouraged by some great people, to hear some great Bible devotionals, to eat S'mores over a wintry campfire, and just have a wonderful time with your friends at Campus Ministry.  More details to come after the first of the year.
  • Spring Break Mission Trip to India:  March 2-11, 2017.  Join us as we travel to India to minister with our friends Gateway Ministries, directed by our dear brother V.S.C. Prasad.  The focus of our ministry during the week is serving several of the over 100 rural village churches around Rajahmundry, India, that Prasad oversees.  We will also minister in the Christian school that Gateway Ministries runs as well as minister at a conference for the pastors (and their wives) who lead all of the Gateway Ministries churches.  Registration brochures are available at all Campus Ministry meetings and our IPFW office.
Mission Trip Picture of the Week
Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria
Talk about Christmas lights!  Check this out!  This is Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in the heart of Sofia, Bulgaria, gloriously illuminated for the Christmas season.  We have visited this Cathedral during all three of our visits in 2011, 2013 and earlier this year in March.  Sofia is home to Care For All MInistries, directed by our friend and dear brother in Christ, Dinko Zlatarov.  Please allow this picture of this beautiful building to remind you to pray for CFA, Dinko, his brother Stefko, and all of the Roma pastors who share the gospel with their people all over Bulgaria and the rest of Eastern Europe.  Be especially in prayer for the funding of a new church building for one of Dinko's churches in Sofia, Bridge 2.  Merry, merry Christmas in Jesus to all of our friends in Bulgaria!      
Fall Retreat 2012 A
What is Campus Ministry?

Campus Ministry is all about helping students enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to grow in that relationship. Our second emphasis is building real, biblical community among the students who participate regularly in our events and meetings.  Third, we emphasize building student leaders who will make a difference on campus, in their community, in their professions, in their homes and beyond wherever the Lord leads them.  Finally, we want our students to learn that the Body of Christ is global.  We specifically minister on the campuses of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and the Indiana Institute of Technology in Fort Wayne.  But students from all over northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio attend our meetings and events; young people who are not enrolled in college are also welcome to attend all of our meetings and events.  We seek to provide a safe place for students to explore their faith, not fearing the inevitable doubt or questioning that surfaces from time to time.  We believe that the spiritual side of college students is to be fed and nurtured while recognizing that the whole person--intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual--needs the health and vitality that only a relationship with Jesus Christ can offer.  We believe that we need to be in service to our campus, our community and the world beyond, sharing the love of the Lord with individuals who might not ever attend one of our events and meetings.  Above all, we believe that we need to daily and continually ask the Lord to deepen our relationship with Him so that He might use us as channels of His grace and love to those around us.

WALB STUDENT UNION, ROOMS 231/235, 260-481-6992, gatesb@ipfw.edu  

Check Campus Ministry out on the web!   A more complete listing of all event information is found on our website.  You will also find local job and volunteer service opportunities on this sight along with individuals looking for roommates or housing opportunities that friends in the community tell us about.
Contact Information
Ben Gates


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Greater Fort Wayne Campus Ministry, Inc.