This past week, I have been visiting Morningstar Church in Rockford, Il. and have been sharing my testimony with a lot of new friends that I have been making. It got me thinking about how God has shaped my life and the influences that he used to do it. It goes without saying that God has used my parents primarily, so I want to think through the preachers that God most used to shape my life through their ministries.
1. Jack Trieber - I was born and raised at North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, Ca. for 24 years under Pastor Trieber's ministry. It was after hearing his preaching that I knew I was a sinner and needed a Savior. He instilled in me a conviction that the Bible is God's Word and that it was my final authority. He was also the one who convinced me that I should be a Baptist and a Fundamentalist.
2. Jack Hyles - Dr. Hyles was probably my pastor's biggest influence, and naturally, his influence spilled over into our church. Dr. Hyles inspired me to be a preacher. I really learned to have a love for preaching as a kid by listening to him. Later on as a teenager, God called me to preach during one of his pastors conference sermons.
3. Paul Chappell - After college I joined Shadow Mountain Baptist Church where I was influenced by Bro. Chappell whose ministry model was being followed at my new church. He had also been the school principal at NVBS when I was a child, so I knew him personally. At this time in my life, Pastor Chappell represented a more balanced, sane and kinder side to Fundamentalism that I needed so much at this particular time when God was shaping me. His messages were much more Biblical in content and his leadership style was much more compelling. To this day I still benefit from his leadership lessons.
4. Dan Garlick - During my time at SMBC, I became friends with an Evangelist whom God used to help me in a personal way that is so profound, I cannot even express. God used him to show me what a godly, loving and humble preacher ought to look like and I wanted to be that kind of man.
5. R.C. Sproul - To my surprise, God used the books and teaching of this Presbyterian preacher to totally rock my world! Sproul introduced me to the holiness and sovereignty of God that had been eclipsed by all my previous influences. Sproul still is a major influence on my theology and thinking today.
6. Thomas Pryde - As a new pastor and a somewhat confused evolving theologian, God used a local pastor in town to come along side of me and help me establish a theological foundation that I could build on for years to come. I also gained a life long friend.
7. John MacArthur - Through his books, sermons, and Shepherds Conference, John MacArthur's solid conviction and Biblical teaching has really helped shape my philosophy of ministry up to this point.
8. Steve Lawson - during the past couple of years I have become acquainted with Dr. Lawson after meeting him at Shepherds Conference and especially during our Expositors Conferences that he preached at in our church. My philosophy of preaching was greatly shaped by him.
9. Bob Bixby - In the past few years, Bob has been instrumental in teaching me how to pastor. This is something that takes personal instruction and cannot be learned merely by textbooks and sermons. Bob has literally gotten into the yoke with me to teach me what it means to be a shepherd, elder and overseer.
There are several others who I could name like Paul Henebury, Rodrigo Guzman, Kyle Haynes, Jeremy Scott, Joel Tetraeu, and John Piper who also have had a part in my spiritual formation, but their influence was coupled with some of the others just mentioned. I am grateful to each of these men for the part that God used them in shaping me.