Seeing tragedy in his childhood challenged his views about life. Facing tragedy as an adult challenged the values that he lived for. And addressing tragedy in his life has given him the satisfaction that his heart longed for. Let me share three things I learned about tragedy from Sujo John’s life.
One of the biggest challenges of the Christian life is the struggle to believe. If we really believed that God answers prayer, then we'd pray more. If we really believed that God wants what's best for us, then we'd be more obedient. And if we really believed that God's Word changes us, then we'd be more faithful in reading it. One of the ways that God seems to grow our faith is through amazing demonstrations of His power. By showing us that cataclysmic change is possible, He encourages us to keep pursuing incremental change in our lives. This week God encouraged me through the incredible transformation of a Japanese murderer, named Tokichi Ishii.
One of my summer projects is a review of first year Greek in preparation for a second year Greek course I need to take in the fall. The problem with the ‘review’ is that the first time I studied Greek was close to twenty years ago and so it pretty much feels like I’m starting from scratch. The textbook I’m using was written by John Gresham Machen, the founder of Westminster Seminary, and originally published in 1923. Reading about Machen’s life recently, I was moved by the profound impact that his mother had on him, and the crucial parenting principles she embodies.
On March 6, Jerry Bridges passed away from heart failure. His writings have made a deep impact on my life. I first read his oldest and most famous book, The Pursuit of Holiness, as a new believer in university. It was a book that awakened me to the full force of what the Bible taught about sin and seeking holiness.
For the final week of Black History Month, I wanted to introduce to you a man who was saved out of Islam and is now, among many other things, helping the church to share the Good News of the Gospel with Muslims. Thabiti Anyabwile grew up in North Carolina in the middle of the Bible belt but his family only attended church on special occasions. He never felt any strong desire for spiritual things until he was arrested in high school and had a wake-up call. He figured that church might be the place to go to get some sense knocked into you when you got in trouble, but when he went, he never ended up hearing the Good News.
Most people, myself included, see the world and small changes that might be made to better it. And we look on the surface at the issues that are nearest at hand. A true visionary, though, is someone who sees foundational problems and is able to envision and pursue profound solutions, regardless of their scale or the challenges they pose. Nigeria’s Byang Kato was a true Christian visionary.