If Saul could change so completely, should we ever consider anyone an unlikely candidate for change--including ourselves?


One Person's Influence
These chapters in Acts are fun to read because there are so many great stories to learn from.  Whether it's Stephen, who is martyred before we even get to know much about him, or the eunuch from Ethiopia, there is a message in these stories for everyone.

One of my favorites, that I talked about in this week's email, is Tabitha. Her story is short--it's only covered in a few quick verses, but I think it's impactful. 

There is a short talk given by Marilyn Bateman that I found on BYU Speeches called "One's Personal Influence" that I really loved. Here are a few quotes I appreciated:

William George Jordan, editor of the *Saturday Evening Post,*made a wonderful statement about each of our lives in one of his articles:
Man’s [or woman’s] conscious influence, when he is on dress-parade, when he is posing to impress those around him,—is woefully small. But his unconscious influence, the silent, subtle radiation of his personality, the effect of his words and acts, the trifles he never considers,—is tremendous. . . . Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other. So silent and unconsciously is this influence working, that man may forget that it exists. . . .
. . . In all Nature the wonders of the “seen” are dwarfed into insignificance when compared with the majesty and glory of the “unseen.” . . .
Into the hands of every individual is given a marvellous power for good or for evil,—the silent, unconscious, unseen influence of his life.


I think this statement is beautifully illustrated in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus. The story is about a man whose dream is to compose a noted piece of music. He becomes sidetracked by having to teach music at a high school to provide for his family. At first he views his job as just punching the clock, but a loving and dedicated principal awakens a realization within him of the opportunity he has to influence the minds of his students. At the end of the movie he is honored by those whose lives have been touched over a 30-year period. One former student, now the governor of the state, emcees the program in an auditorium filled with past students and colleagues. The governor reminds Mr. Holland that his desire was to write a symphony that would make him both rich and famous. He is neither. Consequently, she suggests he might think of himself as a failure. If so, he is wrong. His success is far greater. She suggests that he look around the auditorium. There isn’t a life in the room that has not been touched, and each is a better person because of association with him. The former students are his symphony. 

You can read or listen to the full address here:  One's Personal Influence by Marilyn Bateman


The Martyrdom of Stephen
I am amazed at the courage it must take for someone like Stephen or Abinadi to continue to testify and preach in the face of personal danger. The lesson I have always taken from stories like these is that just because the Lord asks us to do something hard doesn't mean it will end the way we might hope. The Lord works on an eternal measure, not a worldly one

Waiting on Our Road to Damascus
This is one of my all time favorite talks by Elder Uchtdorf and I love this short video that goes with it. You can access the full talk here: Waiting on Our Road to Damascus by Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Introduction to Saul
This is the lesson where we meet the Apostle Paul, who will play such a pivotal role in spreading of Christ's Church to the gentiles and the rest of the New Testament. He is a fascinating character, and there is so much that we can learn from his story.
I found an article that has so much background and information about Paul and I loved it. It talks about the events in these chapters, but also more information from the rest of his ministry. I knew I would want to save it for reference as we continue on through the New Testament.

You can get that article here:  The Life of the Apostle Paul by Nicholas K. Frederick

While this video actually goes with Acts 22, it also tells the story of Saul's journey on the road to Damascus:

Ananias and Jesus
The story of Ananias is an important one for me. Many times I have been asked to do something by the Lord and I have hesitated. Ananias teaches me to move forward in faith even when I may be questioning the direction I'm being told to go.