Zac Poonen is an Indian preacher from Bangalore, South India. He currently pastors the Christian Fellowship Centre in Bangalore, (as well as overseeing various church plants around the world) and travels widely to speak on subjects pertaining to the "deeper life" of Christianity. He is married to Annie, who is a physician, and they have four grown sons, all of whom are Christians. I have been very blessed by Brother Zac's preaching; he did a series of lessons on the Sermon on the Mount which have been the best I've ever heard on this section of Scripture! He issues a weekly e-newsletter called "Word for the Week", and he and his wife both have websites where their books can be downloaded for free.
RYLE, John Charles
John Charles Ryle (May 10, 1816 - June 10, 1900) was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool.
Ryle was born at Macclesfield, and was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he was Craven Scholar in 1836.
After holding a curacy at Exbury in Hampshire, he became rector of St Thomas's, Winchester (1843), rector of Helmingham, Suffolk (1844), vicar of Stradbroke (1861), honorary canon of Norwich (1872), and dean of Salisbury (1880). However before taking the latter office, he was advanced to the new see of Liverpool, where he remained until his resignation, which took place three months before his death at Lowestoft. His appointment to Liverpool was at the recommendation of the outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
Ryle was a strong supporter of the evangelical school and a critic of Ritualism. Among his longer works are Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1869), Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (7 vols, 1856-69), Principles for Churchmen (1884).
His second son, Herbert Edward Ryle was also a bishop.
Thoroughly evangelical in his doctrine and uncompromising in his principles, J.C. Ryle was a prolific writer, vigorous preacher, and faithful pastor. He was born at Macclesfield and educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.
He was a fine athlete who rowed and played Cricket for Oxford, where he took a first class degree in Greats and was offered a college fellowship (teaching position) which he declined. The son of a wealthy banker, he was destined for a career in politics before answering a call to ordained ministry.
He was spiritually awakened in 1838 while hearing Ephesians 2 read in church. He was ordained by Bishop Sumner at Winchester in 1842. For 38 years he was a parish vicar, first at Helmingham and later at Stradbrooke, in Suffolk. He became a leader of the evangelical party in the Church of England and was noted for his doctrinal essays and polemical
In 1880, at age 64, he became the first bishop of Liverpool, at the recommendation of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. He retired in 1900 at age 83 and died later the same year.
In his diocese, he exercised a vigorous and straightforward preaching ministry, and was a faithful pastor to his clergy, exercising particular care over ordination retreats. He formed a clergy pension fund for his diocese and built over forty churches. Despite criticism, he put raising clergy salaries ahead of building a cathedral for his new diocese.
Ryle combined his commanding presence and vigorous advocacy of his principles with graciousness and warmth in his personal relations. Vast numbers of working men and women attended his special preaching meetings, and many were led to faith in Christ.
SINGH, Sadhu Sundar
Sundar Singh was born in the late 1800s to an important, landowning Sikh family in northern India. The Sikhs had rejected the religions of India of the day, and formed their own religion. Singh's mother took him weekly to sit at the feet of a "Sadhu", an ascetic holy man, as well as taking him to a Christian mission school to learn English. With the death of his mother at the age of 14, though, Singh turned violently against Christianity, and, in fact, bought a Bible and burned it page by page in front of his friends. He went back to his room that day with plans to commit suicide.
Before dawn, however, he woke his father and told him he had seen Jesus Christ in a vision, and heard His voice. From that time on, he became a dedicated follower of Christ, in spite of the fact that his family disowned him--even going so far as poisoning his food. He was baptized at age 16 by an Anglican priest.
Shortly after, he decided he wanted to truly follow in the footsteps of His Lord and Saviour. He donned a yellow robe and turban, much as the Hindu Sadhus would wear...the difference being that the Hindu holy men begged on the roads and often sat silent, remote, and filthy, meditating in the jungle or some lonely place. Singh had different ideas, though.
"I am not worthy to follow in the steps of My Lord," he said, "but, like Him, I want no home, no possessions. Like Him I will belong to the road, sharing the suffering of my people, eating with those who will give me shelter, and telling all men of the love of God."
And this is what he did! He traveled all over India, as well as Afghanistan and Tibet, sharing with anyone who would listen about God and the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. He became widely known in the Christian world, and was called "The apostle with the bleeding feet". By the mid 1920s, as his health was starting to fail, He stopped his travels and began to write. In 1929, around 40 years of age and against his friends' advice, he decided to set out once more for Tibet, a closed Buddhist land that missionaries had tried and failed to penetrate. He was last seen in a small village in the Himalayan foothills; after leaving there, he was never seen or heard from again, and it is not known how or where he died.
While an attempt at formal Anglican religious training failed due to his refusal to adopt "European" ways as was demanded by the school, his understanding of God and the Scriptures are evident in his writings. With a deep, heartfelt conviction, he understood that Jesus Christ belonged just as much to India as to the West. He remains an important Christian witness in India to this day; in fact, I first learned of him from an Indian preacher who testified to the respect that Indian Christians still have for him. The Western world, while accepting his teachings, often viewed him with uncertainty because of his unorthodox views regarding visions and the spiritual world; however, I believe this man of God still has much to offer us today of wisdom and an understanding of our Lord Jesus.
SPURGEON, Charles Haddon
C.H. Spurgeon was born in England in 1834, and later became a very popular and somewhat controversial British Reformed Baptist preacher who was given the nickname the "Prince of Preachers." His conversion came at the age of 15 by an unusual circumstance; while on his way to an appointment, he was stranded in a snow storm and took shelter in a Methodist chapel, where, in his own words, "God opened his heart to the salvation message." The text that moved him was Isaiah 45:22 - "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else." He preached his first sermon at Cambridge at the age of 16, and his style and ability were recognized to be so far above average that he was offered his first pastorate at the age of 19. His popularity grew, even in the face of attacks by the media; "His preaching, although not revolutionary in substance, was a plain spoken and direct appeal to the people using the Bible to provoke them to consider the claims of Jesus Christ. Critical attacks from the media persisted throughout his life." His sermons were published weekly in printed form, and by the end of his life in 1892, he had preached almost 3600 sermons, and published 49 volumes.
Spurgeon was married in 1856, and subsequently had twin sons; the same year, however, tragedy struck while he was preaching at the Surrey Music Hall. Someone yelled "Fire!", and the resulting panic left several people trampled to death. This experienced brought Spurgeon great emotional devastation, and he struggled with depression for many years following.
Spurgeon was a contemporary and friend of both James Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission, which Spurgeon helped support financially, and George Mueller, the British man of God whose faith is legendary in his work with orphans. Another interesting note:
On the death of missionaryDavid Livingstone in 1873, a discolored and much used copy of one of Spurgeon's printed sermons "Accidents, Not Punishments" was found among his few possessions much later, along with the handwritten comment at the top of the first page "Very good, D.L." He had carried it with him throughout his travels in Africa, and it was returned to Spurgeon and treasured by him (W. Y. Fullerton, Charles Haddon Spurgeon: A Biography, ch. 10).
Charles Spurgeon's life and influence has been varied and widespread, and through his God-given gift he was able to lead many souls to Christ and encourage countless believers to live their lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
TOZER, Aiden Wilson
Born in La Jose (now Newburg), a tiny farming community in western Pennsylvania, his conversion experience was as a teenager in Akron, Ohio. While on his way home from work at a tire company, he overheard a street preacher say: "If you don't know how to be saved... just call on God." Upon returning home, he climbed into the attic, heeding the preacher’s advice.
In 1919, five years after his conversion, and without formal theological training, Tozer accepted an offer to pastor his first church. This began forty four years of ministry, associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), a Protestant evangelical denomination; thirty three of those years were served as a pastor in a number of churches. His first pastorate was in a small storefront church in Nutter Fort, West Virginia. Tozer also served as pastor for thirty years at Southside Alliance Church in Chicago (1928 to 1959), and the final years of his life were spent as pastor of Avenue Road Church in Toronto, Canada. In observing contemporary Christian living, he felt that the church was on a dangerous course towards compromising with "worldly" concerns.
In 1950, Tozer was elected editor of the Alliance Weekly magazine, now called, Alliance Life, the official publication of the C&MA. From his first editorial, dated June 3, 1950, he wrote "It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress. But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that."
Among the more than forty books that he authored, at least two are regarded as Christian classics: The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy. His books impress on the reader the possibility and necessity for a deeper relationship with God.
Living a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle, he and his wife, Ada Cecelia Pfautz, never owned a car, preferring bus and train travel. Even after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those who were in need.
Tozer had seven children, six boys and one girl. He was buried in Ellet cemetery, Akron, Ohio USA, with a simple epitaph marking his grave: "A. W. Tozer - A Man of God".
Prayer was of vital personal importance for Tozer. "His preaching as well as his writings were but extensions of his prayer life", comments his biographer, James L. Snyder in the book, In Pursuit of God: The Life Of A.W. Tozer. "He had the ability to make his listeners face themselves in the light of what God was saying to them", writes Snyder.
Isaac Watts (July 17, 1674 – November 25, 1748) is recognised as the "Father of English Hymnody", as he was the first prolific and popular English hymnwriter, credited with some 750 hymns. Many of his hymns remain in active use today and have been translated into many languages.
Born in Southampton, Watts was brought up in the home of a committed Nonconformist — his father had been incarcerated twice for his controversial views. At his local school he learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew and displayed a propensity for rhyme at home, driving his parents to the point of distraction on many occasions with his verse. Once, he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers.
"A little mouse for want of stairs
ran up a rope to say its prayers."
Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried
"O father, do some pity take
And I will no more verses make."
Watts, unable to go to either Oxford or Cambridge due to his Nonconformity, went to the Dissenting Academy at Stoke Newington in 1690.
His education led him to the pastorate of a large Independent Chapel in London, and he also found himself in the position of helping trainee preachers, despite poor health. Taking work as a private tutor, he lived with the nonconformist Hartopp family at Fleetwood House, Abney Park in Stoke Newington, and later became part of the household of Sir Thomas Abney at Theobalds in Hertfordshire whose children he taught.
Besides being a great hymn-writer, Isaac Watts was also a renowned theologian and logician, writing many books on these subjects. One such text on logic was particularly popular; its full title was, Logick: or The Right Use of Reason in the Enquiry After Truth With a Variety of Rules to Guard Against Error in the Affairs of Religion and Human Life, as well as in the Sciences. This book , the Logick, was first published in 1724, and its popularity and sales success ensured that it went through twenty editions. ... Isaac Watts' Logick became the standard text on logic at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale; being used at Oxford for well over 100 years.
Thomas Watson (c. 1620—1686) was an English, non-conformist, Puritan preacher and author.
He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was noted for remarkably intense study. In 1646 he commenced a sixteen year pastorate at St. Stephen's, Walbrook. He showed strong Presbyterian views during the civil war, with, however, an attachment to the king, and in 1651 he was imprisoned briefly with some other ministers for his share in Christopher Love's plot to recall Charles II of England. He was released on June 30, 1652, and was formally reinstated as vicar of St. Stephen's Walbrook. He obtained great fame and popularity as a preacher until the Restoration, when he was ejected for nonconformity. Notwithstanding the rigor of the acts against dissenters, Watson continued to exercise his ministry privately as he found opportunity. Upon the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 he obtained a license to preach at the great hall in Crosby House. After preaching there for several years, his health gave way, and he retired to Barnston, Essex, where he died suddenly while praying in secret. He was buried on 28 July 1686.[