Saturday, February 26, 2011

People Who Inspire Me: Jesus Christ

In this series on people who inspire me, I have gone in chronological order from William Wilberforce to Corrie ten Boom. In my final post on the subject, I will go back to the one who inspired them and me: Jesus Christ. In each of the people who inspire me, one can see characteristics of the Lord. One can see his kindness, his courage, his perseverance, his compassion, and many other qualities. However, there is one thing in the character of Christ that cannot be imitated by anyone else. Why does Jesus inspire me? As the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ died in my place, taking the wrath of God for my sins, and was resurrected in order to save me from the fate I deserved.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were still God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5:6-11, New International Version).

Friday, February 25, 2011

People Who Inspire Me: Corrie ten Boom

Corrie ten Boom was a heroine of the Netherlands under Nazi occupation during World War II. Along with her father and sister, she helped many Jewish people escape the oppressive Nazi regime by providing a secret hiding place for them in their home. They also hid members of the Dutch resistance movement. After being captured, she endured the persecution of the concentration camps. Her father and sister did not survive.

Why does Corrie ten Boom inspire me?

1. She was kind to those in need. For years prior to the war, her family took in several foster children in need of homes. In addition, Corrie ran a special church service for developmentally disabled children in the years leading up to the war. Driven by their commitment to Christ, the ten Booms welcomed the Jewish refugees and Dutch resistance into their home when they were in need of protection.

2. She was courageously hospitable. The ten Booms opened their home to Jewish guests during a time when the Nazis were determined to murder them. In addition to hiding their guests, Corrie and her family provided them with kosher food and honored the Sabbath with them.

3. She was willing to forgive. After the war, she spoke at many gatherings about the need to forgive those who were guilty of great sins during the war. As she spoke at one conference, a former concentration camp guard who had been cruel and abusive to her and her sister approached her to ask for forgiveness. In a remarkable show of spiritual strength, Corrie ten Boom forgave her oppressor.

Corrie ten Boom and her family left a powerful legacy of faith in action.

People Who Inspire Me: George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was born a slave shortly before the end of the American Civil War. Since his mother was kidnapped a week after his birth, he and his brother were raised as sons by their slave owners after slavery ended in the United States. Intellectually brilliant, Carver grew up to become one of the best-known and respected scientists of his era.

Why does George Washington Carver inspire me?

1. He used his gifts to benefit the poor. He spent his life helping poor farmers in the South. After centuries of raising nothing but cotton on much of the land of the South, the soil was depleted of nutrients. Carver spent his career teaching poor Southern farmers to raise peanuts and sweet potatoes. He also spent his time developing products from peanuts so that a larger market for peanut products would make it easier for the farmers to sell their crops.

2. He gave the credit for his scientific achievements to the Lord. Carver placed his faith in Jesus Christ at 10 years of age. From that time forward, he lived to bring God glory. Throughout his years of teaching botany at the Tuskegee Institute, he taught a Sunday morning Bible class at the request of the students. Even though the New York Times criticized him for crediting God for his scientific breakthroughs, claiming that scientists should not speak in such a manner, he never backed away from acknowledging the Creator for his accomplishments.

3. He was kind in an unkind world. Carver was born a slave and lived the rest of his life under legalized racial segregation in the United States. As a young man, he witnessed a group of white men murder another young black man. However, his environment never extinguished his kindness. His faith in Christ and understanding of the Bible protected his heart from hatred and bitterness. He once explained his outlook on life in this way: "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life, you will have been all of these."

Our son Christopher is outside the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri, in the top picture. We visited the national monument and museum last spring. Mr. Carver was born and raised on that land in the 1860s.

Monday, February 21, 2011

People Who Inspire Me: George Muller

George Muller (sometimes spelled Mueller) was a preacher in England during the 1800s. Born in modern Germany, Muller came to Christ from a background of lying, stealing, and drunkenness. Although raised as a Lutheran, he had no real faith in Christ until he came into contact with a small group of committed believers who met in a home. After turning to follow Jesus Christ and receiving an education in his native Germany, he immigrated to Great Britain where he became a preacher.

Why does George Muller inspire me?

1. He loved the Bible. As a seminary student, he had a strong preference for theological books. However, after seminary, Muller wrote, "God began to show me that His Word alone is our standard of judgment; that it can be explained only by the Holy Spirit; and that in our day, as well as in former times, He is the teacher of the people...The Lord enabled me to put it to the test of experience, by laying aside commentaries, and almost every other book, and simply reading the Word of God and studying it. The result of this was that the first evening I shut myself into my room to give myself to prayer and meditation over the Scriptures, I learned more in a few hours than I had done during a period of several months previously."

His love for the Bible and his dependence upon the Holy Spirit led him to adjust his practices as he discovered truth from its pages. For example, through reading the Scriptures, he came to the conclusion that believers should be baptized and that baptism meant immersion. After studying Acts 8:36-38 and Romans 6:3-6, Muller wrote, "I saw that believers only are the proper subjects of baptism, and that immersion is the only true Scriptural mode in which it ought to be attended to." Prompted by his faith and his new understanding of the Scriptures, Muller submitted to immersion as a believer.

2. He was compassionate. He saw the needs of the world and sought to meet them. His heart broke for the thousands of vulnerable orphans on the streets of England in those days. As a result, he started a small orphanage in which he and his wife worked to care for and to educate the children. At first, he and his wife cared for 30 orphaned girls. Eventually, they were able to build enough houses and hire enough workers to care for up to 2,050 at a time. By the end of his life, Muller had cared for 10,024 English orphans.

In addition, he sought to meet the spiritual needs of the world. During his lifetime, he distributed 285,407 Bibles and 1,459,506 New Testaments around the globe through his Scripture Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. He also supported a number of missionaries, including the well-known Hudson Taylor.

3. He was a man of prayer. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Muller's life was his prayer life. He had a deep trust in God. In fact, his ministry was completely dependant on prayer. He never asked anyone but God for the resources needed to care for the orphans or to support his ministry in any way. He wanted the Lord to receive all the glory for anything good that came through his ministry. Therefore, he asked no one else for support. Of course, the Lord provided the support through other people, but those people never received a request of support from him or his co-workers. (They did receive notes of gratitude and financial reports to let them know how the money was spent.)

George Muller was an incredible man of faith in Christ.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

People Who Inspire Me: William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Early in his political career, he experienced "the great change" in his life due to a friend who shared the message of Jesus Christ with him as they vacationed together over the summer. He placed his faith in Christ and made a genuine commitment to follow him as Lord.

At first, he seriously considered leaving his position as a member of Parliament. Prior to following Jesus, Wilberforce had not done anything of true significance as a politician. He had been concerned merely with his own position in society, his own fame, wealth, and power. However, a former slave ship captain changed his way of thinking on the subject. John Newton, the author of the song Amazing Grace, urged him to live out his Christian convictions while serving the nation as a politician. Newton encouraged Wilberforce with these words: "It is hoped and believed that the Lord has raised you up for the good of His church and for the good of the nation." As an evangelical Christian committed to doing good for his nation in political circles, William Wilberforce became best known for leading the effort to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade and eventually slavery in the British empire.

Why does William Wilberforce inspire me?

1. He had a strong commitment to sound doctrine. This led to faithfully living out the implications of those doctrines. He pursued mercy and justice because he saw the God of mercy and justice through the pages of the Bible. His understanding of sin, grace, and Christ led him to oppose sin, extend grace, and honor Christ in every aspect of his life.

2. He was evangelistic. In his personal relationships, he sought every opportunity to share his faith. In the Parliament, he worked with many unbelievers. Some opposed him in every way. Others were his friends and allies. In both cases, he tried to persuade them of their need for Jesus. He even wrote A Practical View of Christianity, a popular book in which he shared his faith with the population at large.

3. He had a strong commitment to doing good. In addition to fighting the slave trade, he was heavily involved in the British Foreign Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, and the Society for the Manufacturing Poor. He worked to alleviate harsh child labor conditions and to improve prison conditions. He was a founder of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He did not limit himself to seeking good in one area. He sought every opportunity available to him to improve his world and to honor his Savior.

4. He persevered. Wilberforce endured years of poor health and problems with his children. He faced entrenched political forces that opposed everything he supported. He was slandered in public and humiliated in many ways. But he never gave up. He continued to seek the best for his family, his friends, and his society.

William Wilberforce was a man worthy of honor, because he was a man who consistently honored the name of God.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fighting Domestic Violence

Sometimes Christians personally need to protect victims of domestic violence. My wife and I have offered to house a young woman and her daughter who have experienced domestic violence in the recent past. We are waiting for her response to our offer.

At other times, Christians can help to protect victims of domestic violence by supporting shelters for battered women and children like Tulsa's Dayspring Villa. This video explains some of Dayspring Villa's mission. More information can be found at

"(L)earn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recommended Radio Programs

Last night during a Bible study at the Normandy Apartments in Tulsa, I was asked to recommend a few good Christian television programs. Unfortunately, since I don't watch Christian television programing, I was unable to give any recommendations.

However, since I listen to the radio for several hours each day as I work, I was able to recommend a few good Christian radio programs. These are my favorites:

1. FamilyLife Today ( features Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine as co-hosts. Usually, Dennis and Bob interview Christians who have written books or who have expertise in some aspect of Christian family life. The advice is consistently solid and applicable.

2. Discover the Word ( features Haddon Robinson, Alice Matthews, and Mart De Haan. During each program, they engage in an on-air small group Bible study. As they go through a portion of Scripture, they tackle it from many different angles while asking the hard questions from the text.

3. Truth for Life ( features Alistair Begg, a pastor of the nondenominational Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. He does an excellent job of preaching verse-by-verse through the Scriptures with great insight into the meaning of the text and its application to life today.

While I usually listen on the radio, each program may be heard over the Internet too. If you have never heard these programs, you may enjoy giving them chance. I benefit from them every day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Letter From the Future

When Zac Smith discovered that he had terminal cancer and a short time to live, he wrote this letter to his younger self.

I saw this video on Mark Merrill's blog ( this morning.

"Man is like a breath,
his days are like a passing shadow" (Psalm 144:4).

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Praying for the Missing Fathers

In his sermon today, one of our ministers, Joel Osborn, mentioned helping to teach our congregation's first and second grade Sunday school class with his wife Rhonda. At one point during the class, the children took turns praying. He noticed that three of the children prayed for fathers. One boy prayed for his father who was in prison. Two others prayed that they would simply have fathers.

This is a common source of heartache for many children.

In this video, former NFL coach Tony Dungy recognizes the problem of fatherlessness in America and offers a little advice to help solve the problem:

"And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers..." (Malachi 4:6).

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Christianity's Influence on the Civil Rights Movement

I've been reading Timothy Keller's
The Reason for God. In Chapter 4, Mr. Keller makes several interesting points about Christianity's self-correcting apparatus, it's ability to correct itself by pointing Christians to biblically orthodox doctrine. In a section on how biblical ethics have challenged and changed societies, the author writes about the impact of Christian abolitionists during the 18th and 19th centuries, the South African Commission for Truth and Reconciliation in the 1990s, the resistance to Communism in Poland during the 1980s, Oscar Romero's outspoken opposition to the government of El Salvador's corruption in the 1970s and 1980s, and the German Confessing Church's opposition to Hitler's reign of terror and injustice in the 1930s and 1940s.

I found this excerpt about the American Civil Rights Movement to be the most fascinating:

"Another classic case of this is the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the mid-twentieth century. In an important history of the movement, David L. Chappell demonstrates that it was not a political but primarily a religious and spiritual movement. White Northern liberals who were the allies of the African-American civil rights leaders were not proponents of civil disobedience or of a direct attack on segregation. Because of their secular belief in the goodness of human nature, they thought that education and enlightenment would bring about inevitable social and racial progress. Chappell argues that black leaders were much more rooted in the Biblical understanding of the sinfulness of the human heart and in the denunciations of injustice that they read in the Hebrew prophets. Chappell also shows how it was the vibrant faith of rank-and-file African-Americans that empowered them to insist on justice despite the violent opposition to their demands. Thus Chappell says there is no way to understand what happened until you see the Civil Rights movement as a religious revival.

"When Martin Luther King, Jr., confronted racism in the white church in the South, he did not call on Southern churches to become more secular. Read his sermons and 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' and see how he argued. He invoked God's moral law and the Scripture. He called white Christians to be more true to their own beliefs and to realize what the Bible really teaches. He did not say 'Truth is relative and everyone is free to determine what is right or wrong for them.' If everything is relative, there would have been no incentive for white people in the South to give up their power. Rather, Dr. King invoked the prophet Amos, who said, 'Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream' (Amos 5:24). The greatest champion of justice in our era knew the antidote to racism was not less Christianity, but a deeper and truer Christianity" (pages 66-67).