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.
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Devotion to One
Oswald Chambers (1874–1917)
I remember being a freshman in high school and receiving as a gift from one my Christian friends a copy of My Utmost for His Highest. At the time of my receiving this devotional, I had no idea of the impact it has had, nor much about the author. Years later, as I come across the different pages from that devotional, I see nuggets of truth to be mined. I see why this devotional has lasted so long. I am thankful for Oswald Chambers and also for his wife and daughter, who transcribed much of his writings.
What is interesting about Oswald Chambers is that he was little known in the Christian world at the time of his life. Over thirty different titles are attributed to him, yet he only penned one in his lifetime. His most famous work, My Utmost for His Highest, which has sold millions of copies and is written in several languages, is really a result of Oswald’s wife, Gertrude (who was called Biddy by friends), and their daughter, Kathleen. Though the impact of Oswald’s work during his life may have been limited (he lived only to 43), he is a world changer as he has impacted many believers with his writings. Continue reading “Devotion to One”
Convicted with Truth-John Knox (1514-1572)
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.
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The Pursuit of God
A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)
Every generation seems to have that person who stands out more than the rest. For the early twentieth century, it would seem that person is A. W. Tozer. The Bible gives us a brief story about a man named Enoch. Not much is known about him other than a few verses in the Bible. His life is summed up this way: “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). Though Tozer did not leave this earth like Enoch, we can summarize his life the same way. Tozer walked with God, pursued after God, and then went home to be with God.
Tozer was a pastor, author, editor of The Alliance Witness Magazine, conference speaker, and one who walked with God and knew Him intimately.
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D. L. Moody (1837-1899)
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.
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C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
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.
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Jim Elliot (1927-1956)
“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
David Brainerd (1718-1747)
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.
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World Changer Recap
As of today, I have been able to recap nine different men and woman who have made an impact in our world. They have been Martin Luther, John G. Paton, George Whitefield, Corrie Ten Boom, J. C. Ryle, John Bunyan, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, and George Muller. I have enjoyed the process of reading and learning more about Christians who have loved Jesus more than anyone or anything and who were willing to risk it all for him. I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to do it weekly in the process. I have grown in appreciation for those who are disciplined in writing consistently. Is there something to learn from church history? Yes, and I would like to share a few thoughts on what I learned so far.
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