Saturday, December 8, 2012

Individual Faith

I heard a preacher on the radio the other day, talking about faith. He mentioned the fact that we should never let another Christian’s faith substitute for our own.

Reading or hearing about other Christians’ faith can never take the place of faith in our own spiritual lives. Talking or writing about how good God was and is to others can never replace God’s goodness to us personally. We must pursue God on our own.

After hearing that preacher’s reminder, I immediately thought of this blog. I don’t want to become so consumed with reading and writing about other Christians’ walks with the Lord that I fail to cultivate my own walk with Him.
I was reminded of some quotations from my favorite book—Stepping Heavenward. (I am convinced this fictional autobiography is based on the life of a real person.) At one point in the story the main character, Katherine, contemplates the influence of spiritual mentors in her life:

“I do not now find it possible to get the instruction from him I used to do. I see that the Christian life must be individual, as the natural character is—and that I cannot be exactly like Dr. Cabot, or exactly like Mrs. Campbell, or exactly like mother, though they all three stimulate and are an inspiration to me.”

Katherine also makes this observation: “You may depend upon it that people are individual in their piety as in other things, and cannot all be run in one mould.”

I am grateful for these reminders about individual faith. We aren't all going to have the same experiences; we aren't all going to grow spiritually at the same rate. But as believers, we all have one uniting factor in our lives: our wonderful Lord.

So be encouraged, be inspired by the lives of Christians who have gone before you. But let that inspiration cause you to pursue your own individual relationship with Jesus Christ.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


My grandfather, Norman Pyle, is a retired pastor of over  43 years. Since retiring, Pastor Pyle has cultivated his lifelong passion for reading. He is also the editor of a monthly publication called "A Christian View of the News." I wanted to get his perspective on how Christian biographies relate to the Bible, and he kindly took the time to offer his opinion:


I am sure you would agree the Bible encourages studying the lives of other believers. But what specific verses come to your mind which directly speak about doing so?

II Peter 3:1-2: This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior;
I Corinthians 10:11: "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."

Which story in the Bible is, in your opinion, the most well-written Christian biography?

Ruth is a wonderful story about a heathen woman who makes a choice to follow Naomi's God instead of staying with her false gods. It shows how God worked in her life to become the grandmother of David, and therefore ancestor of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Which biblical character's life story has inspired you the most, and why?

Joseph, whose life story is found in Genesis 37-50. His older brothers ridiculed him and ultimately sold him into slavery in Egypt. While in Egypt, he was challenged to be a leader. Because he did right, he was thrown into prison, where he also became a leader. Each time God lifted him to another position, he did right and honored the Lord. He appears to be one of the only men in the Bible who has no specific sin attached to him, though we know he was a sinner, as all of us are. While he was in Egypt, he became one of the most powerful men in the world.

I know you have read a lot of Christian biographies outside of the Bible--what is your favorite one, and why?

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Howard Taylor. It is a wonderful story of a missionary whose life impacted thousands of people in China. There are still people today in China whose ancestors were led to the Lord by this man. He probably had more influence on missions and missionaries than any other one.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Corrie ten Boom and the Master Weaver

Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II, and was consequently imprisoned in concentration camps. This video explains one of her favorite illustrations of God working everything together for good:

The Weaver: Corrie Ten Boom from Kevin J. Ruhf on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Biographies

In honor of Thanksgiving I want to write about two Thanksgiving-related biographies I have enjoyed:

William Bradford: Plymouth's Faithful Pilgrim by Gary D. Schmidt

I like this biography of William Bradford because it gives interesting details of his early life. Before reading this book I could never picture William Bradford as a young boy living in England.

I also enjoyed reading about the time Bradford and the other pilgrims spent in Holland. There were so many interesting details about the pilgrims’lives before they ever made it to America.

We Were There With the Mayflower Pilgrims by Robert Webb

This book is historical fiction and written for children, but it uses only names of real people. It gives many interesting, true details about the pilgrims, specifically about their trip to America.

 One detail I always remember is the account of a boy named Francis Billington who almost blew up the whole ship while playing with gunpowder.

When I was younger this was my favorite book to read around Thanksgiving. Tonight I started reading it again—to my younger brother.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gracia Burnham: Kidnapped Missionary

This is an interesting video clip of Gracia Burnham, a recent missinoary to the Philippines, telling the story of her and her husband's capture by Muslim terrorists in 2002. The rest of her fascinating story can be found in her book, In the Presence of My Enemies.

Faithful to the End from David Hill on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Benefits of Christian Biographies

Here are some benefits you can gain from reading Christian biographies...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

God in Evidence Not Seen

Last December I read the most incredible autobiography I have ever read—Evidence Not Seen. It’s the story of Darlene Deibler Rose-- a missionary in Papua New Guinea during World War II.
I’m reluctant to praise this book too highly, because that would defeat the very purpose of the book. I think the purpose of the book is to point people to God.
And that’s what the book did for me.
One of the most important lessons I learned from Darlene’s experience is that faith is believing God is still there even when I don’t feel like He is.
That’s the lesson Darlene learned while she was in solitary confinement. Throughout that time she had been enjoying sweet fellowship with the Lord, and one day as she praised Him for that fellowship, she suddenly felt like she was in a spiritual vacuum. She felt like her prayers were going nowhere.
She was worried until she remembered all the promises of Scripture, and she just chose to believe the Lord was never going to leave her. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). After quoting Scripture Darlene found her faith greatly strengthened, and soon she was experiencing fellowship with the Lord again.
Never have I read a personal account that rings so clearly with truth. Nothing Darlene wrote about her experiences and how God saw her through them seems exaggerated. She pointed me to God.
I saw for the first time how loving God is to His children. I wanted nothing more than to get to know the wonderful God who helped this woman in such a real, powerful way.
Words cannot express well enough the effect this book had on me. The strengthening of my faith, the realization that God is wonderfully loving and powerful, the urge to give myself up completely to Him, was indescribable.