Biographies

The Power of a DREAM

Dream-300x132The story of what God did through a small girl who gave 57 cents to a church building fund many years ago in the city of Philadelphia is one of the most inspiring I have ever heard. It shows the power of a DREAM.

If you are going to experience the power of a dream you must …

Develop a vision for your life.

  • Form a mental a picture of what the future could be.
  • See what “could be”. See potential.
  • It may come out of your personal experience, which may include pain.

This little girl saw a church building where there was room for every little child so that no one would miss out on Sunday school.

What’s your vision for your life? What do you see that God could do through you? Invest time receiving a vision from God.

God had a vision of seeing people free from their tendency toward wrong-doing (“sin”). He wanted to restore his relationship with humanity and make a way for us to spend eternity with him. That’s why he sent Jesus. God wants to be our friend.

Reach out to somebody.

  • Meet a need.
  • Give something away.
  • Let it move you emotionally.

This little girl’s vision was about helping others who were in need.

Who are you reaching out to?

God reached out to us through Jesus. He humbled himself and came into our world to help us in our need.

 Expect great things.

  • Be filled with hope and faith.
  • Think BIG. Don’t be limited by what you see in the natural.
  • God-given dreams attract resources (people and money).

This little girl believed she could see this church bigger than it was now.

Are you expecting God to do great things in and through your life? 

Jesus expected great things from his small band of disciples who he left with a huge mandate. He looked through the corridors of time and saw a family of people from every nation on earth.    

 Arrange your life around your dream.

  • Invest in your dream. Sacrifice for it.
  • Prepare for the future.

This little girl gave her dream her thoughts and her savings.

What are you investing in your dream?

Jesus literally laid down his life for his dream.

 Make your life count for eternity.

  • Leave a legacy for the generations to come.
  • “What we do in time echoes in eternity”.
  • Live for something that will outlive you. Live “for the cause” of the kingdom of God.

This little girl effected people long after her life was over. 1000’s benefited from her dream.

What are you doing for eternity?

The life of Jesus Christ divides history and has made a difference in millions of people’s lives.

This little girl shows us The Power of a Dream. Allow God to birth within you the same power to make a difference through your own life, ministry or business. 


God Sent You to Finish the Race

John steven  aquariBy 7 p.m. on October 20, 1968, at the Mexico City Olympics Stadium, it was beginning to darken. It had cooled down as well.

The last of the Olympic marathon runners were being assisted away to first-aid stations. Over an hour earlier, Mamo Waldi of Ethiopia had charged across the finish line, winning the 26-mile, 385-yard race looking as strong and as vigorous as when he'd started.

As the last few thousand spectators began preparing to leave, they heard police sirens and whistles through the gate entering the stadium.

The attention turned to that gate. A sole figure, wearing the colours of Tanzania, came limping into the stadium. His name was John Steven Aquari. He was the last man to finish the marathon in 1968. His leg was bandaged, bloody. He had taken a bad fall early in the race. Now, it was all he could do to limp his way around the track. The crowd stood and applauded as he completed that last lap.

When he finally crossed the finish line, one man dared ask the question all were wondering. "You are badly injured. Why didn't you quit? Why didn't you give up?"

Aquari, with quiet dignity said, "My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race. My country sent me to finish."

So it is with God. God didn't just send you to start this race. He didn't just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship. God sent you both to start and to finish.

Source: Craig Brian Larson, "Strong to the Finish," Preaching Today

 


Feeling Too Young or Too Old?

No matter how old you are now, you are never too young or too old for doing something meaningful and significant with your life. 

Here’s a short list of people who accomplished some amazing things at different ages of their life:

  • Mozart was already competent on keyboard and violin; he composed from the age of 5.
  • Shirley Temple was 6 when she became a movie star on “Bright Eyes.”
  • Anne Frank was 12 when she wrote the diary of Anne Frank.
  • Magnus Carlsen became a chess Grandmaster at the age of 13.
  • Nadia Comăneci was a gymnast from Romania that scored seven perfect 10.0 and won three gold medals at the Olympics at age 14.
  • Pele, a soccer superstar, was 17 years old when he won the world cup in 1958 with Brazil.
  • John Lennon was 20 years and Paul McCartney was 18 when the Beatles had their first concert in 1961.
  • Jesse Owens was 22 when he won 4 gold medals in Berlin 1936.
  • Beethoven was a piano virtuoso by age 23.
  • Issac Newton wrote Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica at age 24.
  • Roger Bannister was 25 when he broke the 4 minute mile record.
  • Albert Einstein was 26 when he wrote the theory of relativity.
  • Michelangelo created two of the greatest sculptures “David” and “Pieta” by age 28.
  • Alexander the Great, by age 29, had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world.
  • Edmund Hillary was 33 when he became the first man to reach Mount Everest.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. was 34 when he wrote the speech “I Have a Dream."
  • The Wright brothers, Orville (32) and Wilbur (36) invented and built the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight.
  • Vincent Van Gogh was 37 when he died virtually unknown, yet his paintings today are worth millions.
  • Neil Armstrong was 38 when he became the first man to set foot on the moon.
  • Mark Twain was 40 when he wrote "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", and 49 years old when he wrote "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".
  • Christopher Columbus was 41 when he discovered the Americas.
  • Rosa Parks was 42 when she refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger.
  • John F. Kennedy was 43 years old when he became President of the United States.
  • Henry Ford Was 45 when the Ford T came out.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci was 51 years old when he painted the Mona Lisa.
  • Abraham Lincoln was 52 when he became president.
  • Ray Kroc Was 53 when he bought the McDonalds Franchise and took it to unprecedented levels.
  • Dr. Seuss was 54 when he wrote "The Cat in the Hat".
  • Colonel Harland Sanders was 61 when he started the KFC Franchise.
  • J.R.R Tolkien was 62 when the Lord of the Ring books came out.
  • Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became President of the US.
  • Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became President.

Bringing Out the Best in Others

DisI love the story of a man who had dealings with two British prime ministers, William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli. He said of Gladstone, “Whenever I came away from a conversation with him I was left with the feeling of how brilliant he was.” He said of Disraeli, “Whenever I came away from a conversation with Disraeli I was left with the feeling of how brilliant I was.” 

Disraeli probably earned the right then to quip:

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”

How can you bring out the best in other people today?

When you enter a room, don't have as your underlying script, "Here I am!" but rather "There you are!"


Failure - Michael Jordan

Jordan

Michael Jordan was one of the greatest basketball players ever to play the game, leading the Chicago Bulls to 6 NBA championships and winning 5 MVP awards.

Near the end of his career, he said this:

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

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Remembering Elisabeth Elliot

Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot pass away a few weeks back (June 15th, 2015). She was one of the most influential Christian women of our time. For a half century, her best selling books, timeless teachings and courageous faith have influenced believers and seekers of Jesus Christ throughout the world. She used her experiences as a daughter, wife, mother, widow, and missionary to bring the message of Christ to countless women and men around the world. 

Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Auca of eastern Ecuador. Elisabeth famously went back to live among the Aucas in order to share the love of Christ. I still remember hearing and being impacted by their story as a teenager through their book Through the Gates of Splendour.

Take a moment to reflect on a life well lived. 

Insightful Quotes (source):

  • “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliot
  • "Wherever you are, be all there; live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." Jim Elliot
  • “When the time comes to die, make sure that all you have to do is die! Jim Elliot
  • “I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.” Elisabeth Elliot
  • “Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one's thoughts.” Elisabeth Elliot
  • “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” Elisabeth Elliot
  • “There is nothing worth living for, unless it is worth dying for.” Elisabeth Elliot
  • “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” Elisabeth Elliot
  • “One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.” Elisabeth Elliot
  • “There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops. If we hold tightly to anything given to us, unwilling to let it go when the time comes to let it go or unwilling to allow it to be used as the Giver means it to be used, we stunt the growth of the soul. It is easy to make a mistake here, “If God gave it to me,” we say, “its mine. I can do what I want with it.” No. The truth is that it is ours to thank Him for and ours to offer back to Him, ours to relinquish, ours to lose, ours to let go of – if we want to find our true selves, if we want real life, if our hearts are set on glory.” Elisabeth Elliot

Recommended Resources:


Jack Simpson and His Donkey (an ANZAC Hero)

SimpsonThe ANZACs have a great hero called John 'Jack' Simpson Kirkpatrick who enlisted and was chosen as a field ambulance stretcher-bearer in Perth on 23 August 1914. On 25 April 1915, long with the rest of the Australian and New Zealand contingent he landed at the wrong beach on a piece of wild, impossible and savage terrain now known as ANZAC Cove. Attack and counter attack began.

During the morning hours of 26 April, along with his fellows, Jack was carrying casualties back to the beach over his shoulder. It was then that he saw the donkey, and having worked as a donkey-lad as a young boy, he knew exactly what to do.

From then on he became part of the scene at Gallipoli walking along next to his donkey, forever singing and whistling as he held on to his wounded passengers, seemingly completely fatalistic and scornful of the extreme danger. He led a charmed life from 25 April 1915 until a machine gun bullet hit him in his back on the 19 May 1915. In those 24 days he managed to rescue over 300 men down the notorious Monash Valley. His heroic feat was accomplished under constant and ferocious attack from the artillery, field guns and sniper fire. Here is what people said about him:

Captain C.Longmore, in 1933, remembered how the soldiers, “watched him spellbound from the trenches … it was one of the most inspiring sights of those early Gallipoli days.”

Colonel John Monash wrote, “Private Simpson and his little beast earned the admiration of everyone at the upper end of the valley. They worked all day and night throughout the whole period since the landing, and the help rendered to the wounded was invaluable. Simpson knew no fear and moved unconcernedly amid shrapnel and rifle fire, steadily carrying out his self imposed task day by day, and he frequently earned the applause of the personnel for his many fearless rescues of wounded men from areas subject to rife and shrapnel fire.”

John Simpson gave his life for the wounded. He was the picture of courage and we are reminded of Jesus’ saying, “Greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.”


Eva Burrows

Eva

From her tireless work on the streets of Melbourne to her rise as global leader of the Salvation Army, Eva Burrows has been remembered for a lifetime dedicated to the less fortunate. Retired General Burrows, known as "the People's General", died late on Friday night. She was 85 years old.

Dr Billy Graham, with whom General Burrows had a warm association, said of her: ‘General Eva Burrows is unquestionably one of the most respected and influential Christian leaders of our time. She is also an individual of great warmth, selfless compassion, unusual vision, and profound spiritual commitment. She embodies the spiritual commitment and dedication that led to the founding of The Salvation Army by William and Catherine Booth over 100 years ago.’ 

Thank God for people like Eva who give such an inspiring example of Jesus' commandment for his followers to love God and their neighbour as themselves. May we too be known by our love. 

[See also the recent Melbourne Age article and a full tribute from the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner William Roberts, which has been sent to Salvation Army leaders around the world]


Finding our Way Back Home

 I read an amazing story this week ...

Google Maps SarooIn 1986, five-year-old Saroo Munshi Khan and his 14-year-old brother were searching the streets for spare change in their home city of Berhanpur, India. Saroo's older brother Guddu wandered beyond the station and Saroo fell asleep waiting for his brother's return. A few hours later, Saroo woke up 1,500 kilometers away, in Calcutta, eons away from his home and family. He survived on the streets for weeks, was taken into an orphanage, and was adopted by an Australian family and grew up in Hobart, Tasmania.

Twenty-six years later, he found his way back to his hometown with the help of Google Earth. An article explained Saroo's journey back home:

In 2011, using vague memories and Google Earth imagery, Saroo identified his home town. Using the ruler feature in Google Earth, he mapped out a search radius by making an educated guess about how far he traveled by train. After countless hours of scouring this area of Google Earth imagery, he came upon a proverbial needle in a haystack. Saroo spotted one vague landmark that led him to the next, helping him unlock a five-year-old child's memories. He eventually spotted a neighborhood, street, and tin roof that looked familiar.

In Saroo's words, "It was just like being Superman. You are able to go over and take a photo mentally and ask, 'Does this match?' And when you say, 'No,' you keep on going and going and going.”

In 2012, Saroo embarked on a trip from Australia back to India. Once he arrived, he shared his story with locals, who helped him find his way back home to his mother and surviving brother and sister. Twenty-six years after accidentally leaving home, he finally found his way back.

In many ways, we are all a bit like Saroo. We are lost people longing for and looking for a place called HOME. The truth is, it doesn't matter where life has taken you, there's always a way back home. You may not know all the steps, but God is calling you and He will guide you.

Extras:

  • Watch Saroo tell part of his story.
  • Read the full story
  • A similar story occured with a Chinese man finding his way home after being adbucted 23 years earlier. 

Never Say Die!

Are you feeling a bit discouraged or down? Do you feel like quitting or giving up? We've all been there at one time or another. Today I was searching through some old quotes and came upon this true story. Hopefully, it will encourage you today ... to never say die.

Some people just don't know when to give up. Take this bloke for example, who was the son of a what people thought was a no-hoper. He was poorly educated and his mother died when he was just nine years old. Not the best start in life one might say. 

At age 21 he worked in a grocery store doing odd jobs. A year later he opened his own store but promptly went broke. At 23, he ran for Parliament but lost. At 25 he had another go at business and went broke again. A year after this his fiance died and he suffered a nervous breakdown. Then he decided to become a lawyer and six years later at 29 unsuccessfully ran for Parliament again. He tried again at 24 and failed. And at 37 he failed for the fourth time.

He finally married and had four sons, three of whom died. At the age of 39 he ran for public office again and was defeated again. Some people just don't seem to get it!

At age 46 and 49 he again ran and was again unsuccessful. Three years late at age 52 Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States and one of the best at that. 

Abe


Saint Patrick

Saint+Patrick+ShamrockIn about a week's time (17th March), Irish people all around the world will celebrate St. Patrick's day, which has become both a religious and cultural holiday in Ireland. St. Patrick is also highly esteemed highly by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches. 

Only two letters survive about Patrick's life and mission, although there is a host of other material containing various traditions about him. He was captured by a group of pirates as a 16 year old and taken to Ireland as a slave. He lived there for 6 years before escaping and returning home to Great Britain. During his captivity he had a conversion experience and became a follower of Christ. Eventually, he returned to Ireland as a missionary - by his own choice.

St. Patrick took the Gospel from Britain to the pagan tribes of Ireland (approx 457-492 AD). This was the time of the druids. It is believed that he was instrumental in seeing over 200 churches planted, over 100,000 people becoming followers of Christ, and 1000s of people being baptised.

St. Patrick was a missionary who connected the Gospel to local culture for the purpose of mission. Many refer to this as the “Celtic Way of Evangelism". It was steeped in prayer, humble living, connection with the local community of people, and finding God at work, even in the pagan culture. Patrick baptised many of the pagan symbols with spiritual and Christian meaning, including the shamrock (a lucky charm which he used to speak of the Trinity) and the highly symbolic Celtic cross which he created.

We have much to learn from St. Patrick as we seek to engage in God's mission in our world today.   


Nelson Mandela

NelsomnNelson Mandela passed away yesterday at the age of 95. He was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politican and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative election. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. 

After studying law in university he became a lawyer. In 1962 he was arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela served 27 years in prison, initially on Robben Island. An international campaign lobbied for his release, which was granted in 1990 amid escalating civil strife. Mandela published his biography and opened negotiations with President de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multi-racial elections in 1994. As South Africa's first black president, Mandela formed a government of national unity in an attempt to defuse racial tension. He also promulgated a new constitution and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate past human rights abuses. Mandela subsequently became an elder statesman, focusing on charitable work in combating poverty and HIV/AIDS through the Nelson Mandela Foundation. He gained international acclaim for his activism, having received more than 250 honours, including the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize and the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is held in deep respect within South Africa, where he is often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, Madiba, or as Tata ("Father"). He is often described as "the father of the nation".

USA Today recently listed a collection of quotes that personify his spirit:

1. "Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end."

2. "It always seems impossible until it's done."

3. "If I had my time over I would do the same again. So would any man who dares call himself a man."

4. "I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles."

5. "Real leaders must be ready to sacrifice all for the freedom of their people."

6. "A fundamental concern for others in our individual and community lives would go a long way in making the world the better place we so passionately dreamt of."

7. "Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."

8. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

9. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

10. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

11. "Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies."

12. "Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front."

13. "Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

14. "I hate race discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all during my life; I fight it now, and will do so until the end of my days."

15. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

We pray for God's comfort for his family and friends at this time of loss and grief. May his impact live on through his great example of love for all people and forgiveness of those who hurt him so deeply.


Unsung Hero: Irena Sendler

IrenaLet me tell you the story of Irena Sendler. It’s a name that I didn’t even know until a few weeks ago, but once I heard her story, I will never forget her. Irena was born in 1910 just outside of Warsaw. By 1940 she had become an administrator in Warsaw’s welfare department as Hitler occupied Poland. Well, the Nazis, if you remember right, they took half a million Jews and they shoved them in the ghetto and then they cut off all the basic health services, even food. Now Irena was responsible for controlling tuberculosis in the area so she could go wherever she wanted without any restriction and she used that freedom to convince Jewish parents to let her hide their children. Imagine the scene, “Please let me take your children.” This woman worked so hard to rescue the children of the ghetto. Sometimes she carried them in a burlap sack or she would put them in a casket to elude the Nazi guard. She would put them in an ambulance right next to her in the back seat and her dog she trained to constantly bark when she was questioned so the Nazis couldn’t hear cries of the children in the sack or the coffin, they’d just hear the dog.

Sendler then gave the children all new names and documents and she placed them with Christian families. But she didn’t want their original identities to die so she wrote down their real names and buried them, underground in a jar, in her backyard, by an apple tree. Eventually she was caught by the Gestapo, she was brutally tortured, they broke her feet and her legs with wooden clubs, just beat her and beat her. She was then scheduled to be executed but she escaped by bribing a guard and she lived in secret until the war was finally over. Once she was free the first thing she did was dig up that jar next to that apple tree. She attempted to put the lives of the rescued children back together. Unfortunately, most of the parents were killed but she placed many with relatives.

Irena Sendler: she wound up rescuing 2,500 Jewish children from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. She lived the past few years, what an amazing woman, at a nursing home. She was actually cared for by a woman that she had smuggled out of the ghetto when she was only 6 months old. Irena had carried her in a toolbox with the dog barking at her feet.

In 2007, Irena was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She lost to Al Gore and his movie about climate change. A year later, she died and it is despicable that she did so without winning the Peace Prize but I’m sure if you asked Irena she would be worrying about other things and right now, today, she is reaping her real rewards and they are far more substantial.

Near the end of her life, Irena said, "Heroes do extraordinary things. What I did was not an extraordinary thing. It was normal.” She carried a small note in her pocket that read, "Jesus, I trust in Thee."

Irena Sendler - an unsung hero.

[Details based on the American TV news story by Glenn Beck. For more information about Irena, check out her web site and the movie A Courageous Heart]


C.S. Lewis Deserves His Place in Poet's Corner

Leiws

By Alistair McGrath for The Telegraph

With simplicity and elegance, he captured the imagination of a war-weary generation.

Today it will be announced that a memorial to the poet, literary scholar and novelist C S Lewis (1898-1963) is to be placed in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey next November, 50 years after his death. He joins a select group of poets, playwrights and writers to have been buried or commemorated there, including Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare. I would argue that Lewis certainly merits inclusion among these greats of English literature.

Has he secured his place because he was a poet? He certainly had early aspirations in that direction. Born in Belfast, he hoped to become an “Irish voice” in poetry, with W B Yeats as his model. Yet little came of this aspiration. His first slender volume of verse, Spirits in Bondage (1919), was published under the pseudonym “Clive Hamilton” (Hamilton was his mother’s maiden name). Many of these poems were written while he served as a junior officer in the trenches of northern France during the First World War.

The early poems remain a powerful witness to Lewis’s early atheism, railing against an absent and uncaring God who failed to halt the slaughter the author saw around him. But he never achieved recognition as a “war poet”, like Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon, who are also commemorated in Poets’ Corner. Indeed, not only did he fail to secure recognition for his war poetry, he was not acclaimed as a poet of any kind, as the lack of interest in his second volume of verse – Dymer (1926) – made painfully clear.

He went on to secure his reputation, rather, as a literary critic at Oxford and Cambridge, offering important assessments of the poetry of others, especially Edmund Spenser and John Milton. He excelled at this task. His work on Milton drew attention to an aspect of his poetry that had been neglected – how it sounded to its readers. Lewis became acutely sensitive to the rhythm of the English language, whether poetry or prose. He never used a typewriter, explaining that the clattering of its keys destroyed his “sense of rhythm”. For Lewis, a fountain pen enabled its user to be attuned to the melody of language.

In the end, the poetic vision that Lewis never quite managed to actualise in his verse was found instead in his prose. Here we find one of the keys to his success as a writer – his ability to express complex ideas in simple language, connecting with his audience without losing elegance of expression. Lewis learnt this skill the hard way, partly through lecturing to aircrews during the Second World War. If you could not express something in simple language, Lewis later declared, it was because you had failed to understand it yourself.

Lewis is one of the best examples of a writer who took pleasure in the art of communication, melding simplicity and elegance in a way few could manage. His popular religious writings – such as The Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity – combine these qualities, even though they cannot be counted as great literature.

Yet this alone does not explain his inclusion in Poets’ Corner. The real reason he deserves his place is on account of his works of fiction, which captured the imagination of his public, especially in the dark days after the Second World War. Supreme among these are his Chronicles of Narnia, especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950).

Although he had no children of his own, Lewis produced a work that captured the imagination of a generation of younger readers. The noble lion Aslan, lord of the mysterious world of Narnia, has become one of the most familiar Christ-figures in English literature. Some, understandably, find the Narnia books problematic on account of the “golly-gosh” language of the Pevensie children, or a suspicion that female characters are allocated subsidiary roles in the narrative. Yet they remain a classic in their field, serving as a model for both Lewis’s literary imitators and critics.

It was not simply that Lewis had written children’s stories that captivated their readers. Lewis developed these stories as vehicles of theological exploration, allowing him to explore sophisticated ideas without compromising the pace of his narrative or losing the patience of his readers. Narnia, Lewis later explained, was about “supposals”. Suppose God did become incarnate in a world like Narnia. What would this look like? More importantly, what would it feel like to be part of this world?

Lewis revealed the imaginative capacity of children’s literature to engage and explore the deepest questions of life, to bring a new quality of engagement to the genre. The writer himself was convinced that he would be forgotten within five years of his death; he would have been taken aback by the renewal of interest in his writings since the Eighties. Surveys now regularly identify him as one of the most significant literary voices of the 20th century. Lewis has made what is probably the most difficult transition an author can hope to make – being read by more people a generation after his death than before it.

Lewis died on the day President John F Kennedy was assassinated. In a speech given at Amherst College four weeks before his death, honouring the great American poet Robert Frost, Kennedy paid a typically handsome tribute to the work of poets and writers. “We must never forget,” he declared, “that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” Lewis would agree. He rightly takes his place among those honoured for their enrichment and expansion of our vision of reality.

Alister McGrath is Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at King’s College London. His 'C S Lewis: A Life’ will be published by Hodder in April 2013.


Billy Graham turns 94

BillyRev. Billy Graham turned 94 years of age this week. 

“I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife, Ruth, as well as many friends and loved ones,” Graham said last week. “I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be.”

His daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, credits her father's long life to prayer, and said she hopes people continue to pray for her father. Graham's son, the Rev.Franklin Graham, says his father has been saying since he turned 90 that he expects to live to 95.

“Daddy at 94 years of age is still a role model to us kids,” Franklin Graham said. “And I’m just thankful and grateful to God that he is still with us. And his mind is—he is sharp as a tack.”

Billy Graham's daughters say he asked for a birthday menu of hot dogs and apple pie. The evangelist will have a quiet celebration at his home in Montreat, N.C., with about 20 family members—his children, grandchildren and great-children. “I love them all and can't wait to see them again,” he said.

At 94 years old, Graham is far from inactive. Preparations are underway for “My Hope,” to be launched by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in conjunction with Graham's 95th birthday in 2013. He fully supports the project and hopes to be able to participate in some way as the date draws closer.

The world-famous evangelist is also still writing books. In his most recent, Nearing Home, Graham shares how he has come to view old age and discusses various life transitions. His 31st book, expected to release next year, is about his past seven decades in public ministry.

Graham also earlier this year finished a hardcover edition of an anthology called Chicken Soup for the Soul: Billy Graham & Me, which documents his life and legacy. It will be released in February.

[Source: Charisma News]


Michelangelo's Unknown Team Members

Michel SistineMichelangelo was one of the greatest artists of all time. He preferred to work in sculpture but became reknown for his paintings. It took a lot to persuade him to paint the ceiling of Sistine Chapel but it eventually became his most famous masterpiece. The walls were already painted with a multitude of stories of Moses and Jesus. Michelangelo took responsibility for painting over 1,000 square metres of the ceiling area between 1508-1512. He covered it with 300 majestic biblical scenes ranging from creation to the last judgment scene.

What most people don't know is that at least 12 other painters helped him with this feat … all of whose names are unknown to us today. In fact, even art experts are unsure which sections were painted by Michelangelo and which were painted by others. 

This is a great example of the principle of teamwork. No person does anything great or significant alone. Others are always involved - encouraging, supporting and contributing. 


Learning from the Lives of Other People

BioEveryone has a story. Our story fits into God's wider story - history. It also connects with other people's stories. We can learn a lot by listening to other people's stories and how God has worked in their lives, including their successes and failures. 

Click here to read a few articles on the lives of a number of influential people.

You also might like to check out Warren Wierebe's excellent book: 50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from the Spiritual Giants of the Faith. 

Together, let's live and learn. 


Ready for Adventure? An Invitation from Earnest Shackleton

AntApparently explorer Earnest Shackleton placed the following notice in a newspaper while preparing for an expedition to Antarctica:

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success."

Supposedly there were 5,000 men and 3 women who responded!

Have we become too comfortable today?

P.S. The search for a copy of the advert still continues today. Click here to read more.

 

 


An Inspirational Life: Helen Keller

220px-Helen_KellerAIn life, it is so easy to focus on what we don't have rather than what we do, on our limitations rather than our opportunities. Helen Keller is one of the most inspiring example of someone who rose above her challenges to do something commendable with her life. 

Helen was born in 1880 in Alabama. She was born blind. I don't know about you, but I was afraid of the dark as a child and was really happy to be able to leave a light on in the hallway. I can't imagine living your entire life ... in the dark. Not only that, she was born deaf. If anyone had a reason to curl up in a corner and give life a miss, Helen did.

But she didn't. Through the inspiration of her teacher, Annie Sullivan, she started to make a life for herself. In fact, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the age of 24 and she was top of her class! Not only that, she went on to be an author, a lecturer and an activist, establishing a foundation to help blind and deaf people all around the world. No wonder she ended up on Time magazine's list of the 100 most important people of century. She died in 1968 at age 87.

Here are some of her inspirational quotes:

I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched ... but are felt in the heart.

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

I seldom think of my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.

It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. 

We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in to be content.

Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all!


Wendell Smith (1950-2010) - a Hero of Faith

Wendell Wendell Smith, the founding pastor of the influential City Church in Seattle, Washington, passed away this week after a 6-year battle with cancer. Wendell was a pastor, a preacher, an author and a leader of leaders. Wendell is survived by his wife Gini, his son and daughter-in-law, Judah and Chelsea Smith, who are now the Lead Pastors of The City Church, and his daughter and son-in-law, Wendy and Benny Perez, pastors of a thriving church in Las Vegas.

Wendell and Gini were my youth pastors when I lived in Portland, Oregon back in the 1970s at what was then known as Bible Temple. I will forever be grateful for their positive influence on my life in my teenage and early young adult years. I still remember listening to Wendell's practical teaching on "The Roots of Character." He encouraged me frequently in the development of my gifts of music and leadership. His example and leadership inspired me and gave me confidence when Nicole and I later led our youth group here in Australia for five years.   

Wendell was a man of faith with a huge heart of love for God and people. He was a man of vision, with a deep passion to pursue the purposes of God in our generation. He had a terrific sense of humour and an ability to encourage people from all walks of life. 

The City Church will host a memorial service at 6 p.m. January 7 at Overlake Christian Church. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations go to the Rose Hill Cottages, a nonprofit ministry that provides housing for foster families in the Seattle area, at www.thecity.org/giving, or to the Wendell Smith Auditorium at The Church at South Las Vegas, www.thechurchlv.com. Also, if you plan to attend please click here to RSVP. You may also visit pastorwendell.org at any time to RSVP, post comments, or get up-to-date information.

Wendell, thank you for your example and inspiration over so many years!

P.S. Live streaming: For those unable to attend the memorial service, we will be streaming the service live over the internet, starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending after the service. Flash player and minimum 3MB connection required; H.264 capability for mobile phones, including iPhone and Android. For projection: widescreen 16:9 at 1280x720. You may test your system compatibility here.

 


Billy Graham's Suit

Billy Graham Here is an inspiring story about Billy Graham that was recently passed on to me.

Billy Graham is now 90 years old with Parkinson’s disease.

In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina,  invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor.

Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson’s disease. But the Charlotte  leaders said, ‘We don’t expect a major address. Just  come and let us honor you.’ So he agreed..

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham  stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said,  ‘I’m reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who  this month has been honored by Time magazine as the  Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from  Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the  aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger. When he  came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He  couldn’t find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets.  It wasn’t there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn’t find it.  Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn’t find it.

The conductor said, ‘Dr. Einstein, I know who you are.  We all know who you are. I’m sure you bought a ticket.  Don’t worry about it.’

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued  down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to  move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great  physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his  seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, ‘Dr. Einstein,  Dr. Einstein, don’t worry, I know who you are No problem.  You don’t need a ticket.  I’m sure you bought one.’

Einstein looked at him and said, ‘Young man, I too, know who I am.  What I don’t know is where I’m going.”

Having said that Billy Graham continued, ‘See the suit I’m wearing? It’s a brand new suit. My children, and my grandchildren are telling me I’ve gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this  luncheon and one more occasion.

You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I’ll be buried. But when you hear I’m dead, I don’t want  you to immediately remember the suit I’m wearing.  I want you to remember this:

I not only know who I am .. I also know where I’m going.’


To Jack - A Tribute to C.S. Lewis by Nicole Conner

Lewis How do you do a SHORT blog post (instructions of him who must be obeyed) on C.S. Lewis? There are few writers who have so profoundly affected my spiritual formation as the writings of C.S. Lewis. For a detailed bio of his life visit this web site or this one.

“Jack”, as he was known by his family and friends, was a prolific writer (he also used pseudonyms like Clive Hamilton, N. W. Clerk, and Nat Whilk), delighting children and adults alike with his Chronicles of Narnia series and totally undoing a stoic adult in books like, A Grief Observed or The Problem of Pain. For the Lewis beginner a good book to start would be Mere Christianity, which begins with a discussion of some reasons for believing that God exists, and why it matters that He does, and then continues with an account of the redeeming work of God in Christ. In this book, Lewis tries to confine himself to the core beliefs of Christianity and steers clear of disagreements between denominations – resulting in the word “Mere” in the title.

Lewis was a reluctant convert to Christianity confessing in his book Surprised by Joy (1955): "I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England." He was never short of critics, some who went as far as calling him a dangerous heretic and infidel, while others sought to debunk his arguments, such as John Beversluis (C.S. Lewis and the Search for Rational Religion).

Jack’s friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien is legendary. Tolkien played a key role in Lewis’s conversion and Lewis helped expand his fictional writing. Both of them taught at Oxford, both were interested in literature, and both wrote fictional books with strong Christian themes and principles. Like any good friendship there were strong disagreements such as Tolkien’s dislike for the first Narnia book, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which he thought was too strong on Christian themes and messages and he didn’t approve of the way Lewis seemed to beat the reader over the head with such obvious symbols. The two of them were members of an informal Oxford group of writers and teachers known as 'The Inklings.' After Lewis met and married Joy Gresham, he grew apart from his old friends and Tolkien took it personally.

I have read several biographies of Lewis and would recommend Jack – A Life of C.S. Lewis by George Sayer. George was a long standing friend of Jack’s and also a member of the Inklings.

There is no one quite as quotable as Lewis (I am not including the Bible or Jesus in that statement). Below are some samples. You can gather more from a great collection called The Quotable Lewis, edited by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root.

  • "A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell."

  • "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing."

  • "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'

  • "Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there’s no God after all,' but 'So this is what God is really like. Deceive yourself no longer.'" [after Joy’s death]

  • "It is hard to have patience with people who say, 'There is no death' or 'Death doesn't matter.' There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn't matter." [From A Grief Observed]

  • "A rejection, or in Scripture’s strong language, a crucifixion of the natural self, is the passport to everlasting life. Nothing that has not died will be resurrected."

  • "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art . . . It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."

To finish, here is an excerpt from The Last Battle, the last book of the Narnia series, the last page, and the last paragraph:

" . . .. and as he spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was on the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; in which every chapter is better than the one before."

Nicole Conner