Great Lives

Here are a few lives that have inspired me:

Corrie ten Boom – Dutch Christian and holocaust survivor, speaker and author

I will never forget the first time I saw the movie “The Hiding Place” which was based off of her life.  Although I was fairly young it reached deep inside of me, moved me, challenged me, and left me changed.  Later, when I read the book, the effect was even stronger.  I have since read it many times and when I taught required it of my students.  Faith, courage, conviction, forgiveness, and grace are all displayed powerfully.   Learn more about “The Hiding Place” on the “Great Books” page.

dr-flannagan1 William Flannagan– EPC Pastor and personal mentor

Bill Flannagan served as my pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia and, as far as I am concerned, will always be my pastor.  I came under his care deeply wounded and truly experiencing”the dark night of my soul”.  Bill saw God’s hand upon me and decided to invest himself and his church in the Lord’s call on my life.  I will never forget his challenge for me to embrace my call and, in doing so, finally stop talking about God’s grace but recognize its power to redeem my wounded spirit, broken family, and ministerial call.  “Burns” he said, “when are you going to see that God’s grace is not just good enough for everyone else but also for you? His grace is great enough not only to save you but empower you to live!” In addition to my life, Bill ministered for 50 years before retiring in 2007 and he still ministers today even in retirement.  He is a founding pastor of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and has mentored a number of pastors in addition to myself.   I will never forgot what his advise before preaching at my ordination.  “When you shepherd a flock, always remember two things.  First, when you get frustrated, tired and angry remember that they are all just sinners.  Second, and it is more important than number one – don’t ever forget that you are too.”  If you would like to contribute to the William Flannagan Seminary Scholarship, which seeks to continue Bill’s legacy of investing in young minsters, please email me at to learn how.

 John Stott– English preacher, evangelist, writer and communicator

Stott’s book The Cross of Christhas had a profound impact upon my ministry as a preacher.  What I knew in my soul and spirit he gave words and explanation to.  Since first reading it I have read almost everything I could get my hands onto that he has written.  Before Stott I had experienced two extremes within evangelical Christianity; the anti-intellectualism of fundamentalism and the equally out of touch intellectual pride of highbrow Presbyterianism.  Stott recognizes the need for us to use the mind which the Lord has blessed us with but to use it for a purpose greater than ourselves.   He is without a doubt the most respected communicator of an intellectual defense of the faith in the last half of the 20th century.  Stott’s classic “The Cross of Christ” is listed on my “Great Books” page and another one of his excellent books, “Your Mind Matters” is listed on my “Current Reading List” page.

Laura O’Neal  Laura O’Neal– Aunt and displayer of uncommon grace

In the south we give the title “Steele Magnolia” for a certain type of lady.  Aunt Laura is the embodiment of all that title represents.  Her soft spokeness, gentle demeanor, and always gracious treatment of others can be misleading.  At her core she is the toughest person I may have ever known.  She has weathered every type of storm, faced every possible attack Satan could assert and she has remained faithful and true to her Lord.  Her example was one of the earliest where I truly thought I saw a reflection of Christ.   “Often you will have to fight and even more often you will need to be strong.  But there is never a reason for you to ever forget to love.”

terri-and-wesley Wesley and Terri Harris– Sister and Brother-in-law and examples of faith

Almost as long as I can remember my sister Terri has had a fire for the gospel of Christ.  Her husband, Wesley, shared her hunger to tell others about God’s grace and he also was the first truly Christian man who served as a consistent example to me.  They left for the mission field in their early twenties with no visible means of support but a great deal of faith.  In 23 years on the field they did not ask for support from anyone except their Lord and He always supplied.  The world looked at a couple of foolish hard headed kids while God saw a faith that He longs for us each to display.   “Darian always remember, God is never in a hurry but He is always on time.” 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer – German pastor, theologian executed by Hitler 

I read Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship when I was 19 and was deeply challenged.  For ten years I studied and explored Bonhoeffer’s life and his radical call to total discipleship.  His courage and conviction powerfully challenged me to stand for truth and the defense of the defenseless.  While I do not agree with everything he wrote, he serves as a strong example that while grace from our Lord is free, it is certainly not “cheap” upon this fallen sod.

  Johnny Cash–  Cash is an American musical legend but that is not the reson I put him on my list.  As great as his music was, it did not define him.  To read why I would put Johnny Cash on my “Great Lives” list link to my post “Cash Got Grace“.

  William Gadsby – English Pastor and Hymn Writer

Today, Gadsby is not well known.  But in his time he was known as one of the greatest preachers alive and was the defender of the doctrine of grace for his generation in England.  Self educated and raised in poverty, Gadsby lived the life of a true shepherd, preacher, and servant of the kingdom.  His hymnbook “Gadsby’s Hymns” is still in use today.  I encourage you to read his sermons and writings.  They are powerful and some of the most rooted in the doctrine of grace you will find.

Gadsby’s Epitaph:  “Here rests the body of a sinner base,  Who had no hope but in electing grace; the love, blood life, and righteousness of God, Was his sweet theme, and this he spread abroad.

There are two books which concern Gadsby on my “Current Reading List” page.  Many of Gadsby’s hymns have been recorded on the “Red Mountain Church” recordings which are on the “Current Tunes” page.

8 responses

5 03 2008

the anti-intellectualism of southern fundamentalism –

what anti-intellectualism? just kidding? how are things buddy

5 03 2008
Chuck Holzman

What a blessed heritage we enjoy in this nation: founded on the fundamentals of our Christian faith; nurtured by God’s humble servants from the past (and present); inspired by those who put their passion to serve Christ foremost in their daily walk… regardless of any worldly opposition; and now, because of our love for our Lord and Savior, utilize modern technology to help us “…go and make disciples of all nations…” [Matthew 28:19]

6 03 2008

Thanks Austin and Chuck, My hope is that by showing how other’s examples have been used by God to shape and develop me as His servant we all will be motivated by and aware of our influence in the lives of those who come across our path.

4 04 2008
An Uncommon Grace News! « An Uncommon Grace

[…] Great Lives […]

1 05 2008

This is a great page, Darian. It reminds me of Hebrews 11 and how should all have heroes of the faith to imitate and inspire us. See a hero. Be a hero. Go with God.

15 02 2009


Great page and wonderful blog. Thanks for directing me here!


21 02 2009
Top Three Books for 2008! « An Uncommon Grace

[…] Great Lives […]

23 02 2009
Favorite Music for 2008 « An Uncommon Grace

[…] Great Lives […]

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