Amazed By Grace
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Emily Dickinson was born December 10, 1830, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although one of America's most acclaimed poets, the bulk of her work was not published until well after her death in 1886. The few poems published in her lifetime were not received with any great fanfare. After her death, Dickinson's sister Lavinia found over 1,700 poems Emily had written and stashed away in a drawer-the accumulation of a life's obsession with words. Critics have agreed that Dickinson's poetry was well ahead of its time. Today she is considered one of the best poets of the English language. Except for a year spent at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Dickinson spent her entire life in the family home in Amherst, Massachusetts. She never married and began to withdraw from society, eventually becoming a recluse. Dickinson's poetry engages the reader and requires his or her participation. Full of highly charged metaphors, her free verse and choice of words are best understood when read aloud. Dickinson's punctuation and capitalization, not orthodox by Victorian standards and called "spasmodic" by her critics, give greater emphasis to her meanings
Growing up in a strict, fundamentalist church in the southern USA, a young Philip Yancey tended to view God as 'a scowling Supercop, searching for anyone who might be having a good time in order to squash them.' Yancey jokes today about being 'in recovery' from a toxic church. 'Of course, there were good qualities too. If a neighbour's house burned down, the congregation would rally around and show charity if, that is, the house belonged to a white person. I grew up confused by the contradictions. We heard about love and grace, but I didn't experience much. And we were taught that God answers prayers, miraculously, but my father died of polio just after my first birthday, despite many prayers for his healing.'
For Yancey, reading offered a window to a different world. So, he devoured books that opened his mind, challenged his upbringing, and went against what he had been taught. A sense of betrayal engulfed him. 'I felt I had been lied to. For instance, what I learned from a book like To Kill a Mockingbird or Black Like Me contradicted the racism I encountered in church. I went through a period of reacting against everything I was taught and even discarding my faith. I began my journey back mainly by encountering a world very different than I had been taught, an expansive world of beauty and goodness. Along the way I realized that God had been misrepresented to me. Cautiously, warily, I returned, circling around the faith to see if it might be true.'
Ever since Yancey has explored the most basic questions and deepest mysteries of the Christian faith, taking millions of readers with him. Early on he crafted best-selling books such as Disappointment with God and Where is God When it Hurts? while also editing The Student Bible. He co-authored three books with the renowned surgeon Dr. Paul Brand. 'No one has influenced me more' he says. 'We had quite a trade: I gave words to his faith, and in the process he gave faith to my words.' More recently, he has felt the freedom to explore central issues of the Christian faith, penning award-winning titles such as The Jesus I Never Knew, What's So Amazing About Grace? and Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? His books have garnered 13 Gold Medallion Awards from Christian publishers and booksellers. He currently has more than 15 million books in print, published in 35 languages worldwide.
Yancey worked as a journalist in Chicago for some twenty years, editing the youth magazine Campus Life while also writing for a wide variety of magazines including Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife, and Christianity Today. In the process he interviewed diverse people enriched by their personal faith, such as President Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, and Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement. In 1992 he and his wife Janet, a social worker and hospice chaplain, moved to the foothills of Colorado. His writing took a more personal, introspective turn even as his activities turned outward. 'Writing is such an introspective act that I found myself looking for ways to connect with the planet bodily. My interests include skiing, climbing mountains, mountain-biking, golf, international travel, jogging, nature, theology (in small doses), politics, literature, and classical music.'
'I write books for myself,' he says. 'I'm a pilgrim, recovering from a bad church upbringing, searching for a faith that makes its followers larger and not smaller. I feel overwhelming gratitude that I can make a living writing about the questions that most interest me. My books are a process of exploration and investigation of things I wonder about and worry about.' Yancey writes with an eye for detail, irony, and honest skepticism.
So, just how does a man who's been through all Yancey has, draw close to the God he once feared? He spends about an hour each morning reading spiritually nourishing books, meditating, and praying. This morning time, he says, helps him 'align' himself with God for the day. 'I tend to go back to the Bible as a model, because I don't know a more honest book,' Yancey explains. 'I can't think of any argument against God that isn't already included in the Bible. To those who struggle with my books, I reply, 'Then maybe you shouldn't be reading them. Yet some people do need the kinds of books I write. They've been burned by the church or they're upset about certain aspects of Christianity. I understand that feeling of disappointment, even betrayal. I feel called to speak to those living in the borderlands of faith.' He lives with his wife in Colorado.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, (1834 - 1892) served for thirty years as preacher and pastor of London's six-thousand-seat Metropolitan Tabernacle. Converted in 1850 at the age of fifteen, he began to help the poor and to hand out tracts; he was known as "The Boy Preacher." He preached his first sermon at the age of sixteen. At age eighteen, he became the pastor of Waterbeach Baptist Chapel, preaching in a barn. In 1856, Spurgeon married Susannah Thompson; they had twin sons, both of whom later entered the ministry. Spurgeon's compelling sermons and lively preaching style drew multitudes of people, and many came to Christ. Soon, the crowds had grown so large that they blocked the narrow streets near the church. Services eventually had to be held in rented halls, and Spurgeon often preached to congregations of more than ten thousand. The Metropolitan Tabernacle was built in 1861 to accommodate the large numbers of people. The prime minister of England, members of the royal family, and Florence Nightingale, among others, went to hear him preach. Spurgeon preached to an estimated ten million people throughout his life. Not surprisingly, he is called the "Prince of Preachers". In addition to his powerful preaching, Spurgeon founded and supported charitable outreaches, including educational institutions. He also founded the famous Stockwell Orphanage. His writings, including thousands of sermons, are still popular with pastors and devotional readers who, like him, treasure the gospel of God's grace.
Omartian is a bestselling author who personally connects with readers by sharing experiences and lessons that powerfully illustrate how God changes lives when we learn to trust in Him, live His way, seek His will, and follow His lead no matter what the circumstances.
The strength and transparency of Stormie Omartian's message has driven her books to the top of bestselling lists and earned many prestigious awards. More than twelve million copies of The Power of a Praying ... series, which includes such books as The Power of a Praying Wife, The Power of a Praying Parent, The Power of a Praying Husband, The Power of a Praying Woman, The Power of a Praying Teen and The Power of a Praying Kid. In May 2002, The Power of a Praying Wife broke a 21-year industry record by becoming a #1 bestseller for 27 consecutive months. It has stayed on the bestsellers' list for over 9 years. In 1998, it was named a Gold Medallion Finalist and in 2001, 2002, and 2003, for an unprecedented three years in a row, it was named a finalist for The Charles "Kip" Jordan Christian Book of the Year Award.
The Power of a Praying Husband spent 32 consecutive months on the bestsellers' list - also reaching the number one position and was honoured in 2002 with a Gold Medallion Award. Omartian's other bestselling books are Stormie, Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On, The Prayer That Changes Everything, and her children's book, What Happens When I talk to God?
In The Prayer That Changes Everything, Stormie Omartian passionately inspires people to look beyond themselves, their circumstances, and their needs so that they may experience the amazing things that take place when prayers of praise are lifted up to God. She encourages men and women to praise God during times of difficulty, sorrow, fear, abundance, and joy as a first reaction rather than a last resort. Sharing personal stories, practical principles, and biblical truths, She offers step-by-step instruction on how to develop a consistent attitude of praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God.
A sought-after media guest, Omartian has been interviewed numerous times on The 700 Club (U.S.) and many other national television and radio programs. She has also been featured in publications such as USA Today, Shine, Profile, Publishers Weekly, Today's Christian Woman, and Marriage Partnership.
As a young singer, dancer, and actress, Omartian appeared on The Dean Martin Show, The Glen Campbell Show, The Mac Davis Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and many other variety shows. She also sang backup for Glen Campbell, Neil Diamond, The Imperials, and other well-known artists. Omartian and her husband, Michael, have written hundreds of songs, including the Christian musical, Child of the Promise. They have put together a praise and worship CD, also called The Prayer That Changes Everything, released by Integrity Music. It is a beautiful collection of familiar worship songs sung by various Christian musicians, plus original music by Michael and Stormie. Stormie says, "Michael has written some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard on this CD. It makes me cry every time I listen to it because I sense the Spirit of the Lord in it." The Omartians have been married for more than 35 years and have three grown children.
Her latest books include The Power of a Praying Life, The Power of Praying Through the Bible, and the long awaited follow-up book to The Power of Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Husband which is called The Power of Praying for Change in Your Marriage.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian (he received his doctorate in theology at the age of only 21), participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism, and a founding member of the Confessing Church. He was involved in plots planned by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
He was arrested in March 1943, imprisoned, and eventually hanged just before the end of the World War II in Europe.
Some of his selected published works include Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1-3; Life Together; The Cost of Discipleship; Ethics; Christ the Center and Letters and Papers from Prison.
RAPHAEL BROWN was a well-known Franciscan scholar and Tertiary Franciscan. His translation of "The Little Flowers of Saint Francis from Latin and Italian was originally published by Doubleday Image Books in the late 1950s. Half a century later, it is still the classic text of this work.
Max Lucado loves words - written, spoken - it does not matter. He loves to craft sentences that are memorable, inspiring and hopefully life-changing. In almost 25 years of writing, more than 65 million books filled with his words have been sold.
Max is the only author to have won three Christian Book of the Year awards - in 1999 for Just Like Jesus, in 1997 for In the Grip of Grace, and in 1995 for When God Whispers Your Name. In 2005, Reader's Digest magazine dubbed him 'America's Best Preacher' and in 2004, Christianity Today magazine called him 'America's Pastor.' The product line for 3:16 - The Numbers of Hope sold more than four million units worldwide, including one million units of the book of the same title (released in September 2007), making it the fastest selling Lucado product in his career.
His works have appeared on every major national bestseller list including Publishers Weekly, USA Today, The New York Times, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and Christian Booksellers Association. He has been featured in countless media outlets and national broadcasts.
Max's writings have been published in a wide array of formats including adult books, gift books, children's titles, Bibles, commentaries, calendars and devotionals. He is also the author/creator of Max Lucado's Hermie and Friends brand family, one of the most popular animated DVD series in the marketplace, with more than 5 million units sold to date. His words have also inspired a branded line of greeting cards and gift books for Hallmark/Dayspring that has sold more than 15 million copies since its 2001 debut.
Max Lucado is a Minister of Preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, where he has served since 1988. He has been married to Denalyn Preston Lucado since 1981, and they have three grown daughters - Jenna, Andrea and Sara and one son-in-law, Brett.
Birth Place: San Angelo, Texas
Graduate: Andrews High School, Andrews, Texas
BA Mass Communications, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas
MA: Biblical and Related Studies, Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas
Associate Minister, Central Church of Christ, Miami, Florida
Church Planning Missionary, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Currently serving as a Preaching Minister, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, Texas
Teaching Ministry of Max Lucado
In 1991, Max Lucado was presented the idea of developing a radio broadcast that focused solely on Jesus Christ. As a result, the vision for UpWords Ministries was born. Since that time, 'UpWords, with Max Lucado' has changed from a 15 minute, daily feature to an inspirational one minute message. Today, UpWords is heard in over fourteen hundred radio markets around the world.
Along with the inspirational radio program, UpWords provides a comprehensive library of full-length CDs as well as many downloadable audio files of Max's weekly sermons delivered to his home church in San Antonio, Texas.
UpWords exists for the sole purpose of encouraging others to take one step closer to Jesus Christ. The staff of UpWords is prayerfully dedicated to this purpose and is constantly humbled to see God's hand at work.
Brennan Manning has spent the past 40 years helping others experience the reality of God's love and grace. It's at the heart of everything he's written and done. A recovering alcoholic and former Franciscan priest, his spiritual journey has taken him down a variety of paths. He has taught seminarians, spoken to packed arenas, lived in a cave and labored with the poor in Spain, and ministered to shrimpers in Alabama. He currently resides in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Brennan is best known as the author of the contemporary classics The Ragamuffin Gospel; Abba's Child; Ruthless Trust, and The Importance of Being Foolish. Most recently he has produced Patched Together and The Furious Longing of God.