Frank Boreham's childhood brimmed with storytelling. They called it "The Hassock Hour," which came on Sunday evenings and commenced at their mother's feet. Kneeling on hassocks beside her, Frank and his nine siblings heard storytelling as children that rivalled everything they heard as adults. Their favorite story was one their mother told of herself at seventeen.
She had made plans with her cousin, Kitty, to spend the afternoon at Canterbury Cathedral. Neither had been there before and they were excited about the adventure. But when the time came for their meeting, Kitty was no where to be found. Ten a.m. turned to half past eleven, and Kitty had still not arrived. "I was just about to turn away," said Mrs. Boreham, "dejected and disgusted, when an elderly gentleman approached me." He seemed to notice she had been waiting for someone, and proceeded to ask if she would like a tour. "I am deeply attached to the place," the man said, "and happen to know something of its story."
This turned out to be quite true. As they moved from point to point, the stories came alive. She saw before her the arrival of Augustine in the sixth century, the first archbishop of Canterbury. She beheld the pilgrims of Chaucher's Canterbury Tales, and she witnessed the Danes' disfiguring attack on the noble building. Beside the shrine of Thomas Becket, the grim martyrdom of 1170 came to mind as never before. She had discovered adventure after all: "Concerning every pillar and arch, every cranny and crevice, my eloquent guide had some thrilling tale to tell."
We often speak of the influence of story in our lives; I think the influence of the storyteller is equally profound. F.W. Boreham long cited his mother's masterful storytelling as the tool God chose to most shape his ministry and imagination. Her storytelling made visible the wonders of God at work. "The Hassock Hour" brought past and future, story and Scripture to life for Boreham, much in the way the guided tour brought Canterbury Cathedral to life for his mother. Through the eyes of one who knew well the story, both learned to see.
The early church is full of similar testimonies. As Philip ran beside the chariot of the Ethiopian official, he heard a fragment of a story. The official had been in Jerusalem worshipping at the temple, and on his way home he was reading from the book of Isaiah. Hearing this, Philip asked the man if he understood what he was reading. "How can I," he replied, "unless someone explains it to me?" and he invited Philip into the chariot. Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the rest of the story. The one whom Isaiah foretold, the one who would be "led like a sheep to the slaughter," was crucified in Jerusalem and resurrected to life. Seeing water, the man stopped the chariot and asked Philip to baptize him: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37).
Storytelling is profound because we live our lives in the midst of story. Mrs. Boreham's encounter at Canterbury invited her to live among a great history of belief. In that cathedral, she was one among countless pilgrims to stand in awe before the Lord. The Ethiopian official found himself a part of the same grand story, invited to life as it reached far beyond the words of Isaiah--from Eden to Nazareth to Ethiopia. The stories we tell remind us continually that life is first a story.
They also remind us that there is a storyteller. When at long last the cathedral tour was finished and they were heading out the great doors, Mrs. Boreham's guide suggested they exchange cards. She thanked him sincerely for his time and courtesy and tucked the card in her pocket. On the train ride home, she pulled it out. It simply read: Charles Dickens. Many of us learn to see life as a story, while never fully realizing the storyteller in our midst.
We tell the old, old story because there is a story to tell. "Faith comes through hearing the message," writes Paul, "and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Faith comes forth because there is a story to hear. Faith comes, because where there is a story, there is a storyteller. Into our lives, there is one who speaks.
------------------- Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) "A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of challenge, words of truth, and words of hope. If you know of others who would enjoy receiving "A Slice of Infinity" in their email box each day, tell them they can sign up on our website at http://www.rzim.org/publications/slice.php. If they do not have access to the World Wide Web, please call 1-877-88SLICE (1-877-887-5423).
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. --Galatians 5:13 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... Freedom is a wonderful gift when it is handled with responsibility. Not being under law is such a sweet grace, but we must pass that sweetness on to each other through service, kindness, and care.
MY PRAYER... O Great God of Deliverance, thank you for rescuing Israel from Pharaoh's grasp, David from the sword of Goliath, and Daniel from the lion's den. But O Great Deliverer, thank you most of all for the triumph of Jesus over sin at Calvary and his victory over death at the empty tomb. I long to see you face to face and thank you for my freedom. Until that day, guide me as I use this gift of liberation to serve your children and live for you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. --Romans 15:2 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... Being depressed and dissatisfied with life can be caused by a myriad of things. But for many of us, these are symptoms that we have focused too much on ourselves and are angry with life. We have forgotten to count our blessings, thank and praise God, and help those around us. This verse addresses the last in this list: thinking of others is just what Christ did. It makes a difference in the life we bless and we also find ourselves immensely blessed.
MY PRAYER... Holy and Matchless God, help me to see the brokenness, hurt, and difficulties in the lives around me, not so I can gloat or feel better about myself, but so that I might bless another with your love and grace. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. --Romans 12:10 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... Being "devoted to another in brotherly love" requires that our church conversations -- we're family, brothers and sisters, children of God -- must be more than mere words. We must enter each others' lives, getting to know one another so that we can serve, love, and bless each other. What have you done lately to get more involved in the lives of your fellow Christians? Devotion to others follows a commitment to know and be known by them!
MY PRAYER... Father, thank you for giving me a world-wide family. Thank you for loving me so completely. Father I ask that you help me be more open with myself and my time to those in your family. Give me a heart that burns to bless and be blessed by those you have made your children. Through my brother Jesus I pray. Amen.
From everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousnesswith their children's children -- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts. --Psalm 103:17-18 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... Forever love is talked about in dime store novels, but only found in God. We tap that reservoir of eternal and divine love through the Holy Spirit, who helps us receive it and share it.
MY PRAYER... Everlasting Father, may your love fill your people so the world may know we are Jesus' disciples. Through him I pray. Amen.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn --Romans 12:15 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... We are not alone. God has given us each other to live our lives for him and get us back home to him. Along the way, we want to share each others' burdens, soar on each others joys, and love each others' hurts. There is no such thing as a solo Christian.
MY PRAYER... Loving Father, lead me to the people today who need their burdens lifted and their joys shared. Let me be your presence in the world of your children today. This I ask in Jesus name. Amen.
I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me -- the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. --Acts 20:24 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... How important is grace? Paul said it was more important than his life! Telling about grace was more important to Paul than his life! In fact, that was his life!
MY PRAYER... Almighty God, Holy Father, thank you for your lavish grace demonstrated and fully expressed in sending Jesus to die for me. As your child, and in thanks to your sacrificial gift, I pledge to you my life, my love, and my all. Through Jesus. Amen.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. --James 1:19 New International Version
THOUGHTS ABOUT TODAY'S VERSE... Have a brake on your tongue, hit the throttle on your ears. Let your angry email sit three days before responding and make sure you read it and edit it before you send it. Keep you mouth shut and your ears open. They all say the same thing. Now if we would just do it, wouldn't the Christian community be so much more blessed!
MY PRAYER... Mighty and Holy God, you are incredible. Beyond my comprehending. How you put up with all the drivel, senseless, and hurtful speech that I and your other children spew out is beyond my understanding. I ask that you release the Holy Spirit to convict my heart and guard my lips from any form of hurtful speech. I want my voice to be as much yours as my heart is. This I pray through Jesus. Amen.
Heartlight Daily devotional and prayer are written by Phil Ware of HEARTLIGHT Magazine, on the web at: http://www.heartlight.org
A revolution has taken place in Nepal, and it could have a major impact on the work of Gospel for Asia and other Christian ministries. I invite you to read the full story here: http://www.gfa.org/gfa/newsupdate051906
On Thursday, the parliament of Nepal stripped the king of his powers and took the reins of government in the name of the Nepalese people. All of this came as a result of massive demonstrations on the part of the people, who expressed their unwillingness to either be ruled by a tyrant or intimidated by Maoist rebels, and after years of prayer by Christians.
One key provision of the new decrees is that instead of being known as "the world's only Hindu kingdom," the new Nepal will be a secular state. This could have major implications for Christians.
Please be in prayer for the people of Nepal, especially for our fellow believers and GFA leaders there.