Friday, September 30, 2011

Overcoming with Christ

Overcoming with Christ—this is the name of a book my father, F. Burleigh Willard Sr., wrote a number of years ago and published in 2008, while he was living with me. I’m thinking about it today because my brother, Frank (FBW Jr.), called me this morning to order six copies for members of his church.

Here’s how that came about: Frank and Jeanne have been attending a bible study on the book of Revelation. Frank mentioned to their teacher that his dad had written a book on the message of Revelation. In fact, he loaned his copy to the teacher, and this instructor had used material from it. When the teacher mentioned the book to the class, six people wanted copies. Happily, I found that many copies in the "signed books" box in my garage.

. . . Such a sad fact that I did not think to have Dad sign all of the stockpiled books while he was able! Last Christmas, he signed about seventy cards (“Grandpa Willard,” “Uncle Burleigh,” etc.). It took him a couple sessions. It was not long afterwards that he was unable to even endorse a check. Now that Dad has graduated to heaven, a signed book is a precious commodity.

But let me tell you more about his book (one of five we prepared for publication while he lived with me). It is a unique study of the book of Revelation. A long-time friend of Dad’s, Bishop Emeritus Robert F. Andrews, of the Free Methodist Church of North America, describes it this way:

As I read Overcoming with Christ, all in one sitting, I seemed to hear a great choir in the background. Like the King of England listening to Handel’s Messiah, I want to stand!

While other scholars have approached the last book of the Bible with slide-rule and calculator, hoping to decipher a “playbook” for the “End Days,” Willard inductively uncovers a “Divine Oratorio” that not only enabled early Christians to sing victoriously while being thrown to the lions in the Roman Coliseum, but also assures overcoming victory to the followers of Jesus who face the evil forces of Satan in our lives today.

And that’s truly what the book is like—inspiring, encouraging. It is a helpful read for individuals . . . and a valuable resource for a group bible study. Incidentally, when my sister, Emily, used it for a bible study, she designed study sheets to use with it. Dad also handed out a couple worksheets to members of a class he taught in my church. These study materials are available for individuals or groups.

It makes my day to know that Dad’s books are still going out to spread the word about the Revelation message he loved so well.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wisdom from Ivan Tait

For weeks, our pastor had announced that Ivan Tait would be preaching at our church on a Sunday morning in July. People who had heard him “last year” in Springfield made it seem as if this would be quite an event.

I saw what they meant. . . .

Half-Mexican and half-Scottish, Ivan conveyed an unusual depth of godliness and love for the physically and spiritually needy. His message to our church was so rich in one-line zingers, I was hard-pressed to jot them all down. Here is one I captured: 

Image from
“Our experience becomes our bible.
We need for the Bible to reinvent our experience.” 

As I ponder his statement again, Isa. 55:9 comes to mind: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my [God’s] ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” That concept seems pretty obvious to me. So why do I look at God’s principles and commandments in the Bible and say, “Oh, that wouldn’t work in my situation”? 

I must think I know more than God. What if I respected and trusted him enough to do things his way? Ivan seems to have found out that a whole new world of experiences awaits me when I do.