“Lord, give me firmness without hardness, steadfastness without dogmatism, love without weakness.”
Father make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road; make me a fork, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.”
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
The beautiful soul who wrote these words in his journal never knew that anyone, besides himself, might ever read them. The author died on January 8, 1956 on a remote riverbank in the jungles of Ecuador. 28-year-old missionary, Jim Elliot and several others, perished at the hands of a fierce tribe of Indians with whom they attempted to share the gospel. His biography, written by his wife, Elisabeth, is entitled “Through Gates of Splendor,” and stands as one of the key Christian biographies every believer should read at some point.
Why do I consider it one of my mentoring books? This excerpt might help explain:
“In his diary of the summer he wrote: ‘He makes his ministers a flame of fire’ Am I ignitable? God, deliver me from the dread asbestos of “other things.” Saturate me with the Holy Spirit that I may be a flame.’
The man who wrote those words was no recluse. He was an American college senior, a school-champion wrestler, consistent honor student, president of the student Foreign Missions Fellowship, amateur poet and class representative on the student council. Able to recite such poems as “The Face on the Barroom Floor,” he was at the same time recognized as a man of spiritual stature above his classmates.”
Each of the three times I’ve read this book, the first in high school and the last being a year ago, I am struck afresh by Jim Elliot’s character and his passion for the lost. In my life, I’ve met a few people who are incredibly fervent for God, who struggle to connect with other humans significantly. Jim clearly demonstrated dynamic relationships with those around him but never let any of them, or other things of this world available to him, dissuade him from the call he received from God to bring the Gospel to unreached peoples.
Elisabeth shares in the book that many friends and family tried to convince Jim to share his gifts of preaching and writing in the states, building up the church here, but to no avail. She shares, in detail, the singularity of his focus and what he gave up obeying God’s call on his life, ultimately making the supreme sacrifice.
The courage of Jim and his fellow missionaries, and the love they demonstrated towards hostile, murderous humans, humbles me and convicts me each time I read this book. I come away each time thinking, “Surely, I can do better than I am.”
My second book for today started changing my prayer life and attitudes about marriage years ago. Stormie Omartian’s “The Power of a Praying Wife,” remains a staple in the tools I use to effectively pray for my husband daily. If you’re a man or single, don’t tune me out yet. This powerful prayer warrior produced a series of these books including, “The Power of a Praying Grandparent,” and “The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children,” along with a dozen or so other books about praying powerfully and effectively.
In the early years of Stormie’s marriage to Michael, a music producer, things between them hovered in a state of continuous turmoil. Here’s what she says about that:
“When my husband, Michael, and I were first married, and differences arose between us, praying was definitely not my first thought. In fact, it was closer to a last resort. I tried other methods first such as arguing, pleading, ignoring, avoiding, confronting, debating, and of course, the ever-popular silent treatment, all with far less than satisfying results. It took some time to realize that by praying first, these unpleasant methods of operation could be avoided.
The books of this series all follow the same basic format. Stormie creates chapters based around various key prayer topics like work, reputation, health, finances, emotions, protection, relationships, temptations and many others. Then each topic opens with some of her observations. Second, she crafts a prayer you can use based on Scripture. She closes each chapter with some key verses that are great to memorize or write in your prayer journal going forward.
Too often we unintentionally usurp the role of the Holy Spirit and try to change people ourselves through methods that seldom produce fruitful, long-lasting results. How much better it is to pour our hearts into prayer about the things that concern us in our close relationships! Stormie has created great tools that can teach you how to be specific, powerful and effective in prayers and less frustrated with those you care about.
If you’ve got some suggestions for other books which have inspired and encouraged you, feel free to share them and why you like them, on my Facebook page.