Augustine of Hippo, who stands as a church father of theology, was an intellectual giant whom I must confess I fall short in writing about. He wrote over 100 books, 500 sermons, and 200 letters. Many who read Augustine relate to him because of his rebellious life and the inward struggle with truth. The Bible reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). Augustine as a new creation was able to look at truth, which he passionately pursued, with new, clear lenses. With a clear look at truth, he saw that truth is found in Christ. He is a world changer—he impacted not just those in North Africa in the 4th century, but so many believers throughout history because his writings have been preserved.
Continue reading “A Changed Life: Augustine (354-430)”
Andrew Murray (1828–1917)
Though Andrew Murray has now been with the Lord 100 years, his life still shows us the closeness one can have with God. The life that he lived is contagious to the believer. Just like an infectious laugh, someone who shows the reality of God’s presence is someone the Christian wants to model after. He penned over two hundred and fifty titles, which include some of his more well-known books, Humility and Abide in Christ. Andrew Murray is a world changer.
Continue reading “A Lesson on Humility”
One of the most colorful and impactful figures who led the Scottish Reformation is John Knox.
It has been said that Martin Luther was the hammer of the Reformation, John Calvin the pen, and John Knox the trumpet. Martyn Lloyd Jones would call Knox the first English Puritan as Knox desired for the church to be pure and would pave the way for puritanism.
This remarkable man may have been somewhat forgotten through the ages as his gravesite is in parking stall #23 of St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland.
This defender of truth who fought against religious idolatry in Scotland and England was born in 1514. Knox went to school and was part of Roman Catholicism. It was through his study of John 17, Jesus’ high priestly prayer, that Knox was converted. He was like a sponge absorbing the water of God’s Word. He couldn’t get enough and he devoted himself for over two years to meticulously studying the Bible.
Continue reading “Convicted with Truth-John Knox (1514-1572)”
A Passion for the Lost
Dwight Lyman Moody has been described by Warren Wiersbe as possibly the most remarkable Christian layman America has produced. He was a pioneer in evangelism and thought outside the box when it came to reaching the lost. His legacy and vision can be seen through history in the lives of evangelists such as Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and now today Greg Laurie.
He never was ordained nor did he ever have any formal pastoral training. Yet, he was willing to learn and seek counsel from men who were formally trained. God would use a man with very little education to become an administrator over an educational facility, Moody Bible Institute. God would use a man who was not formally ordained or trained to reach a whole generation. God would use a man who came from an unknown family to leave a legacy in so many lives of other men.
Continue reading “D. L. Moody (1837-1899)”
I was first introduced to C.S. Lewis not by reading the Chronicles of Narnia, but by reading Mere Christianity as a college student. I received a copy of Mere Christianity from a friend who loved Lewis and was flabbergasted that I was ignorant of this great literary giant. You may be thinking how I could go so long without reading Lewis. I know, I can’t believe it myself either! I didn’t know the riches that would come through reading Lewis. Yes, there are some of his writings that I must take great pains to read and re-read and contemplate over and honestly some still goes over my head. I believe this shows the vastness of Lewis’ abilities as a writer. Though Lewis and his intellect far surpassed anything that I was familiar with at the time, I was intrigued with his use of words to convey deep truths. Lewis, who is so influential today, has had many people look to him for insight and inspiration. His accomplishments cover children’s literature, satire, poetry, apologetics, and Christian living. He is probably one of the most quoted authors today. He is well-read and well-known in so many circles that even secular universities have C. S. Lewis classes where they discuss his writings.
Continue reading “C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)”
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose,” wrote Jim Elliot as a college student in his journal in 1949. These words were deeply seated in his heart. He did not just write a pithy phrase; he believed what he wrote and was willing to live and die by these words. These same words have also encouraged and inspired so many other men and women for the cause of Christ.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Jim Elliot lived to be 28 years old, a life the world would call short-lived and wasted. That would be farthest from the truth. Jim Elliot’s life, though short, was not wasted. God, who directed Jim every step of the way, would direct him to serve the people in Ecuador. God directed Jim and fellow missionaries in taking the dangerous journey to a native Indian tribe that had the potential to be violent. They boarded a plane and landed on a beach head to make contact with this Indian group. It was the end of Jim’s life as he and the fellow missionaries, Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, and Roger Youderian, were killed at the hands of the Huaorani people of Ecuador, whom they went to win for Christ. It may have been the end of their life on earth but it was the beginning of God’s grace and outpouring on that people group.
The world called it a nightmare, a tragedy, wasted life, but what the world did not know was that through tragedy, God does great and mighty things. Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, who would share Jim’s story with the world, said, “To the world at large this was a sad waste of five young lives. But…the Auca story…during all the years since as I have recounted it…has pointed to one thing: God is God. If He is God, He is worthy of my worship and my service. I will find rest nowhere but in His will, and that will is infinitely, immeasurably, unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.” Through Jim’s death and Elisabeth’s faithfulness despite tragedy, God would use Elisabeth Elliot to minister to the same tribe that killed her husband. The murderous tribe would become a tribe of forgiven men and women who looked to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Jim Elliot is a world changer as he shows us God uses those who are willing to be spent for Him. Jesus said, “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake will find it (Matthew 16:25 ESV).” He was willing to lose it.
Jim Elliot was born in 1927 in Portland, Oregon, in a God-fearing family. He, at a young age, desired to follow Christ and live for Him. Where we see a lot of spiritual development is when he went to college.
Within the first two years at Wheaton College is when he realized that he was called to be a missionary. The Great Commission was directed at him. His black journal that he would carry around in college, which later would be found on the beach of the Curaray River where his body was found, was filled with sermon notes in different languages such as Spanish, English, and Quechua. He had notes on the Auca language, and several pages of mission statistics. It contained several hundred names of people that Jim was praying for and he even had a recipe on how to make a bar of soap as if he was preparing for the pioneer life of mission work.
This was a commitment that he was willing to stick with. He was so passionate about mission work that he hitchhiked during one of his summers to Mexico to visit a friend’s parents who were missionaries. There he was amazed and in love with mission work. This confirmed his calling by the Lord.
Jim would graduate from college, where he took the time to prepare for the mission field of Ecuador. He was not idle and spent his time preparing properly.
The story of Jim and Elisabeth Elliot is quite remarkable and could be another article in and of itself. They met in college and were quite good friends. Yes, Jim was interested in her but he took his time to know what exactly was the will of the Lord for their relationship. They both had the same desire: to reach the lost in Ecuador. They would eventually be married in Ecuador where the Lord directed both of them serve.
He had a strong focus on his calling.
Jim Elliot was very mature for his age and what helped in his maturity was his focus and confidence in his calling. Jim would write in his journal,
“Men who live and never understand what they were created for may be said indeed to be ‘dead,’ As the Scriptures say, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’”
This means the decisions of what classes and even his extracurricular classes were made with this objective view in mind. He would have this single-focus vision as he spent his free time and studied Scripture and prepared his body for mission work.
We can learn how important it is to have a strong focus in our lives. We can easily get distracted from the things of this world. He wrote how important it is to have quietness to help with determined focus.
“‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever (Isaiah 32:17).’ ‘In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.’ I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on three elements: noise, hurry, crowds.…But he will not allow quietness. For he believes Isaiah where we do not. Satan is quite aware of the power of silence. The voice of God, though persistent, is soft.”
It is easy to get distracted with the busyness of this world. If the devil can’t have you, he will distract you. Christians should have a singular focus, and that is making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
Obedience is costly.
At age 20, he said somewhat prophetically, “I seek not a long life but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” He may not have known that the Lord would call him home at the age of 28, but he did desire to live a full and faithful life to the Lord.
He knew in Scripture it shares that obedience to follow after Christ can be costly, but it is worth it. He would write out 2 Timothy 2:4: “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
Jim Elliot is a world changer as he was willing to count the cost and take the risk, which cost him his life, to seek the lost and share Jesus with them. Through his death and the death of his fellow missionaries, we see that God did not waste their deaths. Many were saved by faith through God’s grace. We may not even know the extent of their impact as their story continues to be shared to the world. May we be like Jim and say, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
 Elliot, Elisabeth. Shadow of the Almighty. Pg. 54
 IBID. Pg. 182
 IBID. Pg. 112-113
 IBID. Pg. 68.
 IBID. Pg. 44
A Life Pursuing Holiness
What our world needs today is not to see more gimmicks or even a good production to appease the masses. They need to see a sincere desire of the pursuit of God. This is the pursuit of holiness and it is attractive when it is genuine. We need more men and women who desire to please God and let that be their example instead of something flashy or what looks good on the screen, such as celebrity Christianity. We need the example of men and women who desire purity and who are displaying what it looks like to be the bride of Christ, to be set apart from the world. We need the example of what it looks like to hate sin and to love God.
Continue reading “David Brainerd (1718-1747)”
God’s Faithfulness on Display
I am always amazed at the type of people God uses to accomplish His will. He uses people you would not always choose. If you were picking people for a team to be used by God, George Muller would probably be the last one picked, yet God, who is sovereign, makes beautiful things out of the mud and knew that Muller would be the man that God would use to save upwards of 10,000 children abandoned in England.
George Muller was born in Prussia, modern-day Germany, in 1805. He was a student of divinity. Though he knew about God, he did not know the things of God. He may have known somewhat of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, but the gospel did not permeate his heart. He knew nothing of the saving grace of God.
Continue reading “World Changer Wednesday: George Muller (1805-1898)”
I am reminded of the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). These are the reflection of Jesus Christ. We are to reflect Jesus in all things, and that is also in the fruit of the Spirit.
Not everyone may be familiar with Amy Carmichael or her writings but she is a world changer. There is a sweet vault of wealth that comes from the writings of Amy Carmichael. You read the spiritual riches that she possessed that came from her heart that was joined to Christ. Amy Carmichael is a world changer as she served the country of India by bringing the message of salvation to a dark place.
Amy served India for over 55 years, opening an orphanage and founding a mission in Dohnavur. She was a prolific writer, which includes many books of poetry, her testimony of the mission work, her biography, and devotionals.
My first hearing of Amy Carmichael was as a child in school. The story goes that Amy, who is the oldest of seven siblings, was born with brown eyes but wished she had blue eyes like her brother. She would often pinch his cheeks to make the blue in his eyes stand out. As an adult, she realized that God gave her brown eyes to help her gain more acceptance in India. I don’t know if this story is true. I couldn’t find a credible source either way, but she knew God had molded her and created her to be a vessel in India.
Amy was born in a small village in Ireland in 1867. She was raised in a God-fearing family. God equipped Amy with a strong personality. She left Scotland as she was accepted by the Japanese Evangelist Board, and sailed to Japan in March 1893. Once she entered Japan, she wasted no time going throughout the streets with a translator sharing Jesus Christ. She wore the native dress.
She entered India in 1895, where she remained until her death in 1951. Though her original goal in going to India was not to start an orphanage, God directed her steps. It started when a seven-year-old girl, Preena, came running to Amy to be rescued. Rescued from what? Her family was going to sell her to the temple where she would become a temple prostitute. Though dark, this was the custom in India and Amy would make her aim in caring for the children that were to be forced in this life. She would wear the dress of the culture, and dye her skin with coffee to make her skin darker in appearance to be accepted.
By 1904, seventeen children were under her care. It would continually grow. Amy soon was called “Amma,” which in Tamul means mother. At the mission, her job was to be a nurse to those who were sick, to teach the children the basics, and raise them up in the ways of the Lord. Though Amy never married or had children, God gave her many children to raise as her own. Through Amy’s life, she was able to help thousands of children and to this day, the Dohnavur Fellowship continues.
In 1931, she suffered a serious fall, which would change her daily life. Though not completely bedridden, she was very limited in mobility. She would never recover from this injury, and had another serious fall in 1948. This fall resulted in her being bedridden for the remainder of her life until the Lord brought her home. Through this season in her life, she wrote more than 13 books, which shows her diversity and knowledge.
You may not be familiar with Amy Carmichael but once you read some of her writings it doesn’t take long to see her impact. Elizabeth Elliot, greatly impacted by Amy Carmichael, said, “With the exception of my parents, there is no one who has more deeply influenced my spiritual life than Amy Carmichael.”
Amy is known to have said, “Nothing is important but that which is eternal.” She lived by that mindset by counting the cost, leaving her home, and living in an unfamiliar place where should would be an example of Christ to them.
Amy never solicited funds from anyone. She never left India and never sought financial help. Amy was encouraged by the way George Muller trusted God for His provisions of the thousands of orphans that were under his care, and she had the same mindset with the ministry God entrusted to her. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” That was her motivation.
She had a mindset of prayer and had this motto with everyone who served in the mission:
1) We don’t need to explain to our Father things that are known to Him.
2) We don’t need to press Him as if we had to deal with an unwilling God.
3) We don’t need to suggest to Him what to do, for He Himself knows what to do.
Amy not only left an impact with the thousands of children she rescued and freed from temple prostitution, but left a greater impact through the power of the gospel as many lives were changed forever.
She was in a dark land that was in the clutches of Satan, but we know God is in control and is greater. We must remind ourselves that when it may seem the darkest, light shines the brightest. God has called His church to infiltrate, and that is exactly what Amy did with her life.
She Teaches Us the Importance of Being Steadfast Until the Very End:
It would have been understandable for Amy to go back home to Scotland with her family at any point in her life, but she resolved in her heart that India was her home. I am reminded of what Paul wrote to Timothy in his last letter to his son in the faith. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8 ESV).
In one of Amy’s poems, she so eloquently portrays her steadfastness by saying:
From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
Amy Carmichael is a world changer. As you read about her life, may it be a fan to your flame of faith as you serve the Lord.
Shadow and shine art Thou,
Dear Lord, to me;
Pillar of cloud and fire,
I follow Thee.
What though the way be long,
In Thee my heart is strong,
Thou art my joy, and song —
Praise, praise to Thee.
A Call to Forsake It All
Sometimes the Lord gives special insight to children. Hudson Taylor at the age of five that the Lord was calling him to be a missionary to China. During the nineteenth century, China was dark. According to tradition, the gospel was brought to China in the first century by the apostle Thomas. The first Christian church was erected at Xi’an in 638 but history points out that when the Tang Dynasty was overthrown in 845, Christianity seems to have disappeared until the thirteenth century.
Hudson Taylor’s life is one that should encourage Christians to step out in faith to fulfill the commands of God. His life’s work was motivated by the love of his fellow man. His heart’s desire was to see Christ glorified in the salvation of sinners, particularly the Chinese.
Hudson was born into a God-fearing family, but he was not saved until he was 17. From that time forward, he worked tirelessly to be prepared to go to China. Hudson Taylor is a world changer because he was willing to forsake it all to answer the call of Christ to preach the good news in China. He was a man who was resolved, who prayed fervently, and who left an impact.
He Was Resolved:
Like Daniel in the Bible, who when taken captive by the Babylonians was resolved in his heart that he would not defile himself, so did Hudson Taylor as a boy resolve in his heart at the age of five that he was going to China. His philosophy was simple: There is a living God. He has spoken in the Bible. He means what He says and will do all that He has promised.”
Sharing the gospel with the lost in China consumed his thoughts and was his motivation in life. He would read whatever book he could get his hands on that dealt with China. He would go on very little food to prepare his body and mind to go without. He slept on the floor knowing what would await him in China and he started to learn Mandarin Chinese.
At the age of 21 he left without finishing school and made his way to China. It was not an easy trip. In fact, most would have thrown in the towel and headed back home. The trip took five months but in March of 1852 he landed in Shanghai not knowing anyone and barely speaking the language.
He did things differently. There were other missionaries in China at this time, mostly in the major city of Shanghai. They dressed in their western clothes and were not as ambitious with the gospel. Hudson Taylor thought differently. Instead, he put on the cultural dress of the Chinese at the time. He worked tirelessly on learning the language. He desired that they would have the Bible in Mandarin, and he desired for mission groups to be set up in all the provinces of China though many of the governmental leaders in China were against the work of missionaries. He was willing to be placed in danger for the sake of the gospel.
Hudson went without much and was spent for the gospel. As Jesus told apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). These words would be a sweet reminder for Hudson Taylor.
He had resolved in heart to obey his calling in his life. He knew it was the Lord that brought him to China and it was the Lord that would sustain him every step of the way. Years later, even after the success of mission work in China, upon hitting other obstacles and the possibility of not being able to return to China (the borders would be closed to the gospel), he would reflect and say, “My soul yearns, oh how intensely, for the evangelization of the hundred and eighty million of these unoccupied provinces [in China]. Oh, that I had a hundred lives to give or spend for their good!”
Mr. and Mrs. Taylor lost their daughter Gracie in 1867 when they were in China.
Another hard setback was during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 when several thousand Christians were killed. Many were Chinese Christians and some were even part of the Inland China Mission. This was very hard for Hudson Taylor to bear and as he was already suffering in age; it was hard for his body to handle the news of what was taking place in the land he longed for and the people whom he greatly loved. However, he would cling to God’s grace and sovereignty.
There were many pressures from the result of the Boxer Rebellion. It was a dangerous time to be a foreigner in China. The support for the missionaries was dwindling. Hudson Taylor had to constantly seek the Lord in England in asking for support. He was penniless and had hundreds of people depending on his leadership while they lived in dangerous China. He would be known to say, “It doesn’t matter, really, how great the pressure is. It only matters where the pressure lies. See that it never comes between you and the Lord—then, the greater the pressure, the more it presses you to his breast.”
It is true that it does matter how one responds to trials. When we are tested, our response should be to draw close to the Lord.
He Was a Man of Prayer:
Along Hudson Taylor’s journey he was placed into situations where he could only trust in God for protection and provision. There are countless stories of God coming through for him, whether it was providing some income when it was needed or protection from an angry mob.
While facing difficulties he would write, “He wants you to have something far better than gold, and that is a helpless dependence upon Him, that He may have the privilege (the right) of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.”
Hudson Taylor would travel all throughout Great Britain and the United States not only sharing his story and seeking support, but to raise up men and women who would answer the call as missionaries to China.
I don’t know if we can calculate the exact impact of Hudson Taylor, who is a world changer. He went to China by himself but at the end of his life there were 205 mission stations, 850 missionaries, and 125,00 converts in China. The Inland China Mission continues today as the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. Just like tossing a rock into still water, the ripples continue and grow wider and wider from the impact. His ministry has grown. Though China today may be closed to Christianity, it is thriving with many house churches and Christians who put themselves at risk for the gospel daily.
What is remarkable is that after World War II, the Christian church seems to have grown despite the rise of communism, and the church has remained underground. It has been estimated that today there are more than 100 million Christians now active in China. Where once China was the recipient of missionaries, China is now sending out missionaries to other places like America and Europe.
Today there is still a need to go out.
Jesus has given us the Great Commission: to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18–19). The main thrust of the passage in Matthew is to make disciples wherever we live but some will be called to missions. As Christian parents, we must count the cost even if that means our children one day leaving home and going overseas for the sake of the gospel (Luke 14:25–33). There is a need and there are still people groups in the world that are lost and need to hear the gospel. It is good for us to share the stories of men and women like Hudson Taylor and others who paved the way for modern missions.
• It Is Not Death to Die by Jim Cromarty
• Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor