New book shares insights from the storied life of acclaimed evangelist
March 14, 2022
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The D. L. Moody Center (moodycenter.org),one of the nation’s top spiritual renewal destinations, recently announced the release of “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody.” The illustrated, full-color book is published by Kingdom Winds Publishing and available now.
In the book, Dr. James Spencer, president of D. L. Moody Center, explores the life and legacy of famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Drawing from a list of superlatives describing Moody, written by friend and fellow minister R. A. Torrey, Spencer shares eight aspirational characteristics for every person who seeks to serve Christ.
Spencer notes, “Studying these characteristics is not an academic exercise. Instead, in learning about the characteristics that made D. L. Moody uniquely useful to God, the goal is to begin cultivating these characteristics within our own lives.”
Spencer’s journey in authoring this book began in a surprising way. Having served as an administrator in Christian academia, Spencer was considering leaving faith-based vocational work altogether.
Spencer recalls, “After years of pushing myself to achieve, get promotions and develop a solid reputation within biblical education, I was running on empty (and had been for some time). It was time for a change.”
Change arrived with the opportunity to lead at the renowned D. L. Moody Center— an organization that just so happened to provide spiritual renewal to Christian laypeople. Yet even though Spencer was familiar with Moody’slegacy, he wasn’t entirely familiar with the man himself.
Spencer shares, “I’d spent my professional career at one of the schools that Moody founded in Chicago, so I knew Dwight Moody as an evangelist who had also started Bible institutes. Beyond that, I knew precious little about him. I’d never read any of his books and had only casually thumbed through a few of his biographies. He seemed impressive enough but had never captured my interest.”
Seeking to brush up on the organizations’ founder, Spencer began to comb through Moody’s correspondence, and discovered a subject who deserved a reexamination.
Spencer says, “Moody was not known as a theological thinker, but in his letters, I discovered a man whose understanding of God influenced the way he interacted with others, shaped his desires and prayers, and handled everyday situations.”
Beyond gaining a deeper understanding of Moody as a minister, Spencer began to experience a personal revival of purpose.
“As I studied Moody’s life, I realized I had been too independent, too willing to tie God to my own agendas, and too focused on achievement. Despite earning multiple advanced theological degrees, working in Christian higher education, and being active in my local church, I had lost sight of what it meant to walk by faith.”
Spencer soon discovered a thematic thread woven through Moody’s writings: the virtue of being useful.
“Throughout his letters, a certain word that he used to address his desire to be of service to God repeatedly jumped out at me—’useful.’ With all his heart, Moody strove to be Useful to God.”
Spencer’s personal study prompted him to share these profound insights with a larger audience. Drawing from his rich source material, Spencer honed these characteristics to assemble eight essential traits emblematic of those who desire to serve Christ, such as being “prayerful,” “studious,” and “humble.” The result is “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody,” a book that is both inspiring and instructive to those desiring to serve God well.
Spencer says, “‘Useful to God’ serves as a reminder that our most powerful witness to God and the gospel comes as we delight in God’s instruction, sit at the feet of Jesus, and follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Our best work happens when we look with eyes that see and listen with ears that hear so that we do not walk by sight, but by faith.”
For more information about “Useful to God: Eight Lessons from the Life of D. L. Moody,” click here.
The D.L. Moody Center is an independent non-profit organization located in Northfield, Massachusetts. Dedicated to preserving and advancing the legacy of Dwight Moody, the D. L. Moody Center is a catalyst for spiritual formation in New England and beyond through evangelism and discipleship.
The D. L. Moody Center is a destination for spiritual renewal, yet not a school. Nevertheless, there is much to learn by studying D. L. Moody and what God accomplished through his life which began in New England, at the Northfield, Massachusetts campus, the heart of Moody’s ministry as well as his childhood home.
The D. L. Moody Center is honored to sponsor the annual “Go Dark, Shine Bright” ministry campaign in partnership with The Shine Bright Project. The innovative initiative is designed to help Christians let go of the daily distractions of social media and focus on daily devotions in the Word of God.