Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Warren Weirsbe's Be Myself: the longest journey is the journey inwards

photoI've resolved to make Christian biography and autobiography a part of my reading menu. Just recently I finished Warren Wiersbe's "Be Myself." I borrowed my copy from the church library. (Many thanks to Ate Mabelle who patiently handles my book requests.)

Warren Wiersbe is close to my heart because he wrote Prayer, Praises, and Promises. There he expounded on a particular Psalm every single day. He effectively drew out its context and application. I used the devotional for my quiet times during my third year in college, and it was used by the Lord to help me grow spiritually.

In "Be Myself", Wiersbe writes about himself. Why? He quotes Dan Hammarsjold who wrote, "The longest journey is the journey inwards." Wiersbe writes, "Maybe that's why people write them [autobiographies]: they're trying to find themselves."

Throughout the book, Wiersbe uses the metaphor of a bridge-builder to make sense out of his life. He writes, "As  I look back, I can see that I've always been building bridges. Some of the bridges I've built are the kind that everybody has to build for themselves if their lives are going to be meaningful; a few of my bridges were special assignments from the Lord. If I hadn't believed that, I could never have it."

I had a grand time reading stories from his childhood. He grew up during the Depression, and he was a sickly kind of kid who had to "take a lot of cod-liver oil." He detested sports, but he liked books, calling the local library a paradise.

He writes about his passion for magic, a medium he would use to engage people to listen to the gospel. He wrote his first book on magic tricks when he was 14, a foretaste of the future, because he'd turn out to be a prolific writer in Christian magazines and literature.

In most parts of the book, he writes about the ministries where the Lord has called him, from Youth For Christ where he met the evangelist Billy Graham, to his pastoring the Calvary Baptist Church and Moody Bible Church, and his directorship of the Back to the Bible. He has faced various criticisms for handling these ministries. People have called him too fundamentalist. Others would brand him as someone who was too liberal.And yet these denominational biases did not prevent him from ministering the Word of God. He quoted Augustine of Hippo who wrote, "In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity."

His life demonstrates the importance of choosing a godly wife and of balancing family life with ministry, perhaps a problem many ministers today have. He speaks highly of his wife, Betty, who has supported him in his work, making transitions from one ministry to another smooth-sailing. He writes about his friends, naming them one by one, and praising them for the good work that they have done, and the lessons they have taught him.

The book is replete with reminders for would-be pastors and preachers. This book, though, would benefit not just pastors and pastors-in-training, but any ordinary Christian. I highly recommend it.

Warren Wiersbe must be a really funny man, bursting with humility, wisdom, and love for his Savior. I wish I'd get the chance to meet him in this lifetime. But even if I don't, I'm thankful for having learned so much from him.



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