On the passion facade of La Sagrada Familia, the magnificent cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, you’ll spot this odd grid of numbers. Designed and placed here by the cathedral’s architect, Antoni Gaudi, this is known as a “magic square.”
Why is this so special? Try adding the numbers in any direction and discover the sum (the bottom number on the right is 15 – apologies for my photography). Then, think about what significance that sum has in a cathedral dedicated to the glory of God.
Gaudi used a variety of imagery, light and shapes to draw the visitor’s attention and devotion to God when they walked through his cathedral. In my mind, this square represents a clever way to catch your attention and entice you to give thought to the image of the invisible God.
Still stumped? Shoot me a note and I’ll fill you in on the secret.
Utensil rack in Beijing cafeteria
As a Westerner who needs a knife, fork and spoon (and sometimes fingers) to get food from my plate to my face, I appreciate the dexterity and simplicity of eating with chopsticks. It’s impressive. However, the above dining utensil option of chopsticks and only chopsticks, means that I’m looking at a long, slow meal, and most likely noodles in my lap.
Eric Liddell, the subject of Duncan Hamilton’s biography, For the Glory, was both an Olympic champion in the 400 meters and an exemplary missionary in China. Perhaps even more impressive is how he treated people throughout his life. Rich or poor, English or Chinese, he truly “did unto others” in the sense that Jesus meant.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Chariots of Fire, which came out in 1981 and told the story of Liddell and fellow countryman Harold Abrahams, as their running careers culminated in the 1924 Olympics. This book goes much deeper into Liddell’s family background and follows his life up to that Olympic moment, then on through his missionary career in China. Liddell’s faith in Christ and his devotion to others shines through in the book.
Liddell’s life story is wonderful and tragic. As you read you’ll discover a new hero in the faith, just as I’ve done. This is a splendid book for your summer reading and I encourage you to watch the movie if you’ve never seen it!
Every year Open Doors USA publishes their annual World Watch List documenting the countries in the world where Christians are most violently persecuted. While it can be difficult to live as a follower of Christ anywhere on the planet, in these countries it could cost you your life and the threat is not subsiding.
Here’s the top 10 list, all places where Christians face extreme persecution:
- North Korea
Will you join me in praying for the followers of Christ who are trying to survive amidst the persecution in the countries? Also, please join me in praying for the true conversion, the heart change and the discovery of hope for the millions of people living in these places who would come to faith in Jesus if just given the opportunity.