Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional
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Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman behind the World's Bestselling Devotional

Baker Books / 2017 / Paperback

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Product Description

My Utmost for His Highest has sold 13 million copies. But did you know that the book was not published until 10 years after Oswald's death? The person behind the compilation and publication was his devoted and indefatigable wife, Biddy, who went on to complete another 29 books from her husband's notes. In Mrs. Oswald Chambers, Michelle Ule traces the life of this remarkable woman, providing insights into the incredible life that she lived and the selfless dedication she expressed as she served God’s kingdom.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 256
Vendor: Baker Books
Publication Date: 2017
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0801075149
ISBN-13: 9780801075148

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Publisher's Description

Among Christian devotional works, My Utmost for His Highest stands head and shoulders above the rest, with more than 13 million copies sold. But most readers have no idea that Oswald Chambers's most famous work was not published until ten years after his death. The remarkable person behind its compilation and publication was his wife, Biddy. And her story of living her utmost for God's highest is one without parallel.

Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule brings Biddy's story to life as she traces her upbringing in Victorian England to her experiences in a WWI YMCA camp in Egypt. Readers will marvel at this young woman's strength as she returns to post-war Britain a destitute widow with a toddler in tow. Refusing personal payment, Biddy proceeds to publish not just My Utmost for His Highest, but also 29 other books with her husband's name on the covers. All the while she raises a child alone, provides hospitality to a never-ending stream of visitors and missionaries, and nearly loses everything in the London Blitz during WWII.

The inspiring story of a devoted woman ahead of her times will quickly become a favorite of those who love true stories of overcoming incredible odds, making a life out of nothing, and serving God's kingdom.

Author Bio

Bestselling novelist Michelle Ule has read My Utmost for His Highest as her daily devotional every year since 1999. Trained as a newspaper reporter, she blogs regularly on Chambers, travel, and spiritual topics, and has taught women's Bible studies for 30 years. She lives in Northern California. Learn more at www.michelleule.com.

Product Reviews

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  1. Prayerwalker
    Loyalton, CA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Such an insightful and fascinating biography!
    November 17, 2017
    Prayerwalker
    Loyalton, CA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    This book has inspired me in so many ways. Biddy Chambers lived out her faith in courageous fashion. She taught Bible college students at a time when women did not do that sort of thing. She ministered with husband Oswald in Egypt to World War I soldiers. And after his death just seven years into their marriage, the brilliant stenographer turned her husband's lectures and sermons into thirty books--the most famous of which is world's most popular devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. She profited not a cent from those publications but instead helped finance the tens of thousands that were sent out into the world to help others grow more closely to Christ. Living in virtual poverty and raising their child alone, she completely relied upon her Savior. I loved Michelle Ule's book, which was carefully researched and chronicled sensitively and yet objectively. I highly recommend it for fans of My Utmost. For those who have not read the devotional, I believe Ule's biography will draw them to My Utmost with great insight and appreciation for not only its insights but also for its ghost writer. I plan to revisit My Utmost for 2018, with two goals: to grow more closely to Christ but also to look for Biddy's touches.
  2. Bekah
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Touching Love Story
    November 11, 2017
    Bekah
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    I stepped outside my reading comfort zone this week, and I am sure glad I did. I read a biography. In full disclosure, I've historically hated biographies. I blame my childhood and all the (truly) boring biographies we had to read for school. They were laden with dates and void of interesting details, and I came to believe biography and boring surely must be synonyms.

    But when I saw that Michelle Ule, a novelelist, had written a biography on Oswald Chambers' wife, I thought maybe I should be brave and give the biography another try. First of all, I confess I didn't know Oswald Chambers even had a wife. His words in his well-known daily devotional, My Utmost for His Highest were so deep and Spirit-led that I was sure he'd devoted his entire life to the work of the Lord with no time left for marriage and parenting.

    I was wrong.

    Furthermore, I had no idea that without Biddy Chambers, we would not have My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald's wife was an accomplished stenographer and spent their marriage transcribing his lectures, teachings and sermons. After his (early) death, she devoted the rest of her life to publishing his words so they could live on and teach generations to come. Every book that bears his name indeed bears his wisdom, but every one was published by his wife.

    As I read Mrs. Oswald Chambers, it was interesting to learn more about Oswald's life and work, but I was entirely captivated by their love story. Neither one had particularly intended to marry, but God ordained a magnificent love story between the two of them. They were absolutely a perfect match, both driven by their love for the Lord and their desire to see others get to know Him through their testimony and teaching. They never aspired to be wealthy or really have much of anything at all in terms of material possessions. They just wanted to support each other in the deepest possible love and spur one another on to the work God had called them to do.

    Most unexpectedly, this book challenged me as a wife. I am convicted to reevaluate how I'm living in my marriage, how I'm supporting my husband and his dreams, and how we work together as a team.

    That's what I learned from the book, and I must say that it was a much better representation of a biography than anything I remember reading in my childhood. Yes, there were still dates and such present, but Michelle's novelist touch was present, making this a story I could crawl into and experience with all my senses. I think from now on, I'll limit all my biographical reading to pieces crafted by novelists. :)

    An excellent book to read if you appreciate the words of Oswald Chambers, yes, but also a magnificent resource on marriage!

    * Baker Books provided a copy of this to me at no charge. All opinions are my own. *
  3. thechristianscribe
    Arizona
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Very Inspirational
    November 7, 2017
    thechristianscribe
    Arizona
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: Female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Mrs. Oswald Chambers has easily become one of my favorite Christian biographies. Absolutely loved it from the first to the last page! Not to mention, the pictures in the middle of the book are a great detail to the story.

    The book centers around Biddy Chambers but talks a great deal about Oswald Chambers himself. The research behind the book is astounding! You can tell a lot of careful time and hard work was put into the writing. The author's storytelling is very engaging; told from the third point view with glimpses into Ms. Ule's imagination.

    It spans from Biddy's childhood all throughout her adult years, meeting, marrying Oswald, ministering together, to his death and the preparing of all the books to her death and the death of their daughter Kathleen.

    Reading Mrs. Oswald Chambers was a humbling read drawing many emotions from happiness to sadness back happiness. Mrs. Ule has done a great service to the Christian community through this book. In this day and age of hard to find ministers and Bible teachers who teach the sound Biblical Doctrine, it's very refreshing to read about all those who lived the simple, humble Christian life. This is why I enjoy the ministries of 16th-early 20th-century preachers and teachers.

    The Chambers were a very humble couple of great faith. They put their complete trust in God and God was always faithful to provide their needs. Biddy was an admirable woman of God who continued her husband's ministry after his death while raising their daughter alone. Real stories like this one boost my faith and are an inspiration in my walk of faith.

    Being in my mid-twenties I had only heard Oswald Chambers referenced a handful of times by preachers and knew very little about him. I had heard about My Utmost for His Highest but had never really paid much attention to it. After reading small excerpts from the devotional and from Oswald's other works, I'm convinced that I NEED to read them all! After finishing this biography I quickly ordered a copy of My Utmost for His Highest and can't wait to start reading it!

    Thank you, Ms. Ule, for writing this book, all your hard work was well worth it! I highly, highly recommend this book! 5 stars out of 5 and 10 out of 10!

    I received a copy of this book from Baker in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
  4. daischop
    Chattanooga, TN
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Intriguing
    November 3, 2017
    daischop
    Chattanooga, TN
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 0
    Value: 0
    Meets Expectations: 0
    This was a truly fascinating book. Having read the devotionals in the past, I was surprised to discover her role in the subsequent books.

    Amazed to learn about how this all happened .. a girl in love .. marriage and devotion to husband and all of his ideas. From travels to opening up a school and running it. Living on little money and trusting God in everything they did that He was in control and would lead and take care of them. The birth of a daughter Kathaleen and their devotion to her. Moving to Egypt during war and the dangers involved. Setting up camp and working with the YMCA was very interesting to learn about . The death of Oswald at an early age due to pneumonia and Biddy (Mrs. nickname by Oswald) continues to work and support her and And daughter by using Oswalds devotional notes etc. the book my upmost for his highest was published ten years after his death.. Both Oswalds leave an impression about giving your life of service to Him by actions and careful words.

    I received this book from the publisher and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
  5. SnickerdoodleSarah
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Interesting
    November 1, 2017
    SnickerdoodleSarah
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 4
    The only thing I knew about Oswald Chambers was that he wrote the devotional, My Utmost For His Highest, which I looked through some years ago (I don't remember if I read it all the way through) and liked some of the concepts that I found in it. When I saw this biography of his wife I thought that it would be a good way to know more about the couple. It really informed me quite a bit and gave me a better picture of these two people, or a rather it gave me the only picture I've had so far as I didn't know really anything at all about them.

    Gertrude Annie Hobbes, known as "Biddy" (Oswald's nickname for her), was not expecting the life that God had planned for her. She had trained for and had become excellent at taking shorthand notes and was a good typist as well. Her goal was to be the first female secretary to the prime minister of England. God had other plans. She and Oswald Chambers initially 'fell' in love on a ten day voyage to America. Oswald was a volunteer circuit lecturer for the League of Prayer and had been asked by her mother to look after her daughter on the trip. He was already acquainted with Biddy, but this trip solidified a friendship between the two and initiated a correspondence between them and visits, which led to their becoming engaged and then married.

    They served the Lord together, starting a Bible training college for the League of Prayer and after some years, during World War I they left England to work with the YMCA in Egypt ministering to soldiers stationed there. They brought their only child, Kathleen, with them. I really appreciated that instead of seeing Kathleen as secondary to the primary work of ministering to other people, and sending her off to boarding school or having her live with relatives or another family (as other couples involved in mission work sometimes did), they saw her as their own God given responsibility and another person whom God gave them to minister to and so they took her with them. While there, Biddy transcribed Oswald's messages in shorthand, as she had done in England.

    After some time of ministering in Egypt Oswald died and Biddy was left a widow and with a young child to look after. Biddy didn't despair and kept on with the work that she believed God still wanted her to do. She took over some of the teaching sessions Oswald had held and often used his works, reading out loud from them. Some time after World War I ended Biddy and Kathleen returned home and Biddy continued the work she had started while in Egypt, of typing up and translating her shorthand notes of Oswald's lectures (she had trunks/boxes full of them) and sorting through and compiling them into pamphlets and books. She saw it as a God-ordained ministry granted to her, to organize and publish her husband's preaching. Late in life Biddy ended up having some mental problems (not fully explained) and she died in 1966 at the age of eighty two.

    I want to mention that I had some concerns about Biddy and Oswald's beliefs. But let me say first that this biography seems more like an overview of the couple and their faith, so I am not sure the extent of their beliefs in most of these things. I'll mention a few of my concerns. First, they were associated with the Holiness movement, and from what I understand that is associated with believing that Christians can attain perfect sinless lives on this earth despite having yet unglorified bodies. But Biddy and Oswald never seemed to think that they ever attained that perfection, at least from what I learned of them in this book.

    Second, they had some weird views of how God directs His people. They used isolated verses from the Bible to confirm some of their decisions. For instance, while in Egypt, having gone there before sending for Biddy and Kathleen, Oswald was trying to figure out where they would live. I quote from the book, "Oswald possessed no funds to build but expected God to supply what he required. God confirmed the decision when Oswald dread the Daily Light verse that night, taken from 2 Chronicles 6:18: 'Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!'" That was just plain weird. I think that Chambers was highly in error in treating the Scriptures that way and that he was treading on dangerous ground. That type of hermeneutics seems to make people lean toward becoming modern false 'prophets'. Saying, "thus sayeth the Lord!" when the Lord has not said it (see Ezek 22:28). If the context of the Scriptures do not matter, and if we do not use a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic then the Scriptures can be made to say anything we want them to say!

    And lastly, Biddy 'preached' at times, and that to men. She led some of the study sessions through the Bible (including leading some of the Sunday sessions), and had other studies while in Egypt. I am not sure if she used Oswald's lectures (reading them out loud as she often did for the classes she took over) or if she came up with her own. I felt rather uncomfortable with that as it goes against what the Bible says about women not speaking in a teaching position in an assembly of the church that includes men (and she mainly would have had men as her audience out there in Egypt).

    Despite concerns like the above I still liked this biography, it was well written and quite interesting. And I still liked Biddy and Oswald overall and thought that they were good examples, especially in realizing the sovereignty of God in life, and their submission to whatever He ordained to happen in their lives (even recognizing His hand in the interruptions of daily life). I'll end with a quote (from Oswald I think) that I particularly liked, "We have to trust in God whether He sends us money or not, whether He gives us health or not. We must have faith in God, not in His gifts."

    Many thanks to the folks at Baker Books for sending me a free review copy of this book (My review did not have to be favorable)!
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