The Value of Biography

There are many ways to learn, personal experiences of victory and failure are among the most lasting. Mentoring is another way to learn. It is life on life interaction. Learning from other people’s victories and failures can save us a lot of personal hardship if we are open and observant. Some of my best mentors have been people I have never actually met, in person.  I have met them through the pages of books people wrote about them or by stories told, oral history, about people who have made a difference in the world. These are not all famous people, but ones who have changed the lives of others directly or indirectly in noticeable ways.

Taylor

J Hudson Taylor, British Missionary to China. 1835-1905

The biography of Hudson Taylor had a profound effect on me when I  was a young follower of Jesus. The personal sacrifices he made for the cause of Christ, the cross cultural challenges and sicknesses he endured all laid a foundation for me as I later faced many of the same sorts of challenges as a 20 something missionary in Africa.

When I was sick with typhoid fever I remembered Hudson’s suffering from typhus. I honestly thanked God for the typhoid, in large part because it was not typhus! I gained courage because if he could live through that, then I could get through this!

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Another biography God used to count the cost of following Christ was Shadow of the Almighty about Jim Elliot who was killed in Ecuador by the Auca indians in the early 1950’s. His journal entries freed me to journal and talk with God from my most honest place. I did not have to put on airs with God. He knew it already.

I also learned, as his quote implies, that living for Christ, no matter what, is worth it! “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose” has acted as a sort of anchor for me for decades when I have been tempted to give-up in the face of huge obstacles. Jim Elliot gave his life, I can live mine to glorify God with eternity in view.

These are only two examples of people who have influenced me deeply even though I never met them. Pondering how we are changed by biographies I came to the prayerful conclusion: it is because we are all created in the image of God. Regardless of language, culture or race, we all reflect God in similar, yet different ways. These once living examples can encourage and sometimes even show us the way.

Their written record continues to influence others for generations to come!

The really awesome thought that came to me next, was knowing that God created each one of us. There are billions of us on the planet, each of us made uniquely, in the image of God! Differently. We each reflect something different about God!

What does that tell us about God?!

I can not grasp the majesty, wisdom, power or the imagination of our creator!

Have you ever read a biography? What do you remember? What did you “take away” that has been useful in your life? How has learning from other people’s lives taught you more about God?

Finally, What do people learn about God when they spend time with you?

If you ask around I am sure you will be surprised to find they learn much more good than you might think. No need to have a biography written about you. Just living the life means more than you will ever know this side of eternity.

 

*The photos this week are stock photos from the web.

Every Day Is An Adventure!

Do I see overwhelming challenges or opportunities?

There are lots of ways to wake up to the day. It’s easy to wake up dreading the day ahead. With work and a “To Do” list to the floor, I have choices to make. Do I wake up with dread or thankfulness? Do I see overwhelming challenges or opportunities?DSC_0521

At different times in my life I have done a better job of facing the day than others. I am currently in the process of making choices, again, to help me begin my day with a heart full of thanks and a mindset that looks at opportunities more than challenges.

What am I focusing on? Am I riveted on the problems? Overwhelmed by the demands? Then chances are I will end up down in the mire. Stuck.

When I focus on God and His ability to love, lead and bring me through, that is when I soar with wings like eagles. I have to look at the problems and challenges. They will not go away unless I face them and deal with them.  But I can not allow myself to keep my focus there. By glancing on the problem while gazing* on the Lord and His sufficiency, I make a big shift toward seeing possibilities over problems.

To begin to make that shift I start by asking God to help me see life from His perspective.

I also pray two specific things before I sleep. First I ask Abba to protect my thinking while I sleep. I choose, with Abba’s help, to take each thought captive to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Secondly, I ask Abba to help me wake up with a song of praise on my heart and mind. When I wake up with a God chosen song as my first conscious thought of the day, life is different! When I am in this “place” in my head and in my life, I have confidence I can face anything life throws at me, because God is with me and in me. It becomes very easy to wake up saying/praying “Hi Abba! Thank you of the song!”

Zeph 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

Sometimes His choice of song is very specific with the message he has for me.

When I am awake, I like to ask God a question. “Abba, What are we going to do today?” There are variations on that, but honestly, I find every day I am blessed with a song, or just the thought Of the presence of God in my life is an adventure with God.

Did you know God Shouts over you with loud singing whether or not you notice? Ask Abba to help tune you in to His song for you.

* The “glance and gaze” principle come from: 2959 Plan, Agape Ministries, Titusville, FL 32780

Who’s You Daddy?

What do you call your father? Pop, Papa, Father, Dah, Dada, Dad, Daddy? When mine was alive I usually called him Dad. His given name was Peter, though most called him Pete. Most of us have nick names, terms of endearment we use with friends and family.

A young me with my Dad.

A young me with my Dad.

When I write about God I sometimes call him Father or Heavenly Father, at least for me, those are more formal titles. In the Christian faith, we dare to call God Father because He sent his only son to live life on earth. He lived a perfect life. That qualified Jesus to die in our place so we can have access to the Holy God. In John 10:30 Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.”

I also call God “Abba.” In the Aramaic Greek of Jesus’ day, Abba used by a child beginning to talk calling their father Dada or Daddy.

There is an intimacy with God available as a disciple of Jesus Christ that no other “religion” offers. The death and resurrection of Jesus opened a way for us to talk with our Creator like a young child in the protective arms of their Daddy. I like to use the name Abba. My Dad was a great guy. I miss him. But Dad is my name for him, and I have a different relationship with my Creator God. For me, Calling Him Abba is a term of endearment that is less formal and perhaps even more intimate.

Yes, my Abba is The Creator of every thing. And Yes, there are times to call Him Father. And yet for me, there are times when I am a little more relaxed when I talk with my Abba. Thanks to the Holy Spirit, my Abba lives in me. I never have to wonder if He hears me when I talk with Him.

How do you talk to and about your earthly father? How do you address God? Are you afraid to approach Him in a familiar way, like using Abba or something else? That’s Ok. When you have a few moments, please take some time to ask God about how you can learn to feel safe with and grow deeper in a relationship with Him.

Abba, Thank you that you know exactly where I am, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You know my full history. You know me better than I know myself. And you know where you want me to go and what you want me to do. I choose to trust you more each day. I give you permission to draw me closer to you so I can know you better and trust you more. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear you working in and around me, and the grace and strength to cooperate with what you are doing in and through me… Thank you for hearing!

What’s In A Promise?

Many years go, when I was a young 20 something, I had a unique opportunity to put God to the test on his promises. I had been studying the book of Proverbs in my personal time alone with the Lord. This particular book of the Bible is full of God’s promises and wise sayings from King Solomon.

20150305_203626At the time, I was teaching Secondary School to Nigerians, in Nigeria, West Africa. One of my duties was to proctor exams that decided whether or not a student would be considered for a college education. I am not small. I am just shy of five feet ten inches tall. I was about 23 years old and a somewhat sickly slender from the local intestinal bugs I had hosted.

On one particular occasion as I was overseeing the exam I saw a student cheating.

This was not just any student, but the biggest, strongest and meanest student in the school of 500 students. I remember when I confronted him, he stood up and I had to put my head back to look him in the eye. When I did, I met his glare as he snarled at me promising I would pay for turning him in. It clearly felt like the promise of personal threat to my life. And part of me was shaken.

I admit I was surprised, when out of my mouth, I believe God breathed by the Holy Spirit, I found myself with calm and resolve quoting God’s promise in Proverbs 2:8 to him.

for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.”

Though a bit rattled, I was basically, at peace. The weight of God’s promise rang true in my heart.

The young man left on school vacation the next day.

Weeks later, when school was back in full swing I noticed that I had not seen that student on campus. I looked for a few days then asked a student who knew the one who had threatened me. I asked if he knew where this other one was.

His reply: “Yes Miss, On his travels home for holiday, his taxi was in a car accident and he died on the side of the road.”

I was stunned. Road accidents in central Nigeria were very common. In my mind I asked God, “Was that really necessary?” As I listened I had the sense that the student’s promise to harm me was real. I also had the sense that the promise from God to protect the way of his faithful ones far outweighed any threats.

That experience, and others over the years, have instilled in me a deep trust in the promises of God from the Bible.

When looking for God’s promises there are a few things to take into account.

Always take the word of God in context. Don’t pull out half a verse, or a whole one, to make it your promise when everything around your “proof-text” indicates it really means something else.

A promise is only as good as the one who makes it. Any one can make a promise, but the ability to fulfill a promise is only good if the one promising is true to their word. God is true to His promises.

Am I true to my word? I’ll never be as faithful as our Creator, but with God’s help… I try to be faithful.

How has God fulfilled His promises to you? Take a few minutes to ponder the faithfulness of God to you personally and to the family of God.

Finally, thank God for His love for you, attention to detail and persistent faithfulness.